Emergency appeal launched following Middlewich branch breach

The canal breach from the offside. PHOTOS CRT

THE Canal & River Trust has launched an appeal for funds following a breach on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal which swept away a 70m of the 200-year-old canal on March 15.

It is still investigating the precise reason for the breach but at this stage it is believed that it was most likely caused by an increase flow of water along the canal due to paddles at lock gates being left open.

The increased flow is likely to have overtopped the canal at the breach site which, together with an already sodden embankment following a wet winter, caused the bank to wash away.

Engineers have estimated that the repairs will cost between £2 million to £3 million and are likely to take many months.

Ani Sutton, engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust said: “The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal is hugely popular with the local community and boaters and we’ve been overwhelmed already by the love and support everyone is offering.

“So far, I’ve heard from people potentially planning to wash cars at Tescos, offers of help from Morrisons, support from the council, and others planning local tombola’s and a whole lot more.

“Breaches like this are very rare but, as a charity, something of this scale and cost really sets us back, diverting precious resources from other work on the waterways. We’ve launched an emergency appeal to raise money towards the repairs.  We want to thank everyone who has already donated.”

Anyone wishing to support this emergency appeal to repair the breach can log on to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/breach or alternatively text LEAK515 to 70070 to donate £5*.  Donations will go towards repairing the canal.

The canal was initially drained between Stanthorne Lock and Wardle Lock, on the south side of Middlewich town centre, a distance of just over three quarters of a mile. The towpath has also been closed along this stretch.