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News Article

Updated April 30, 2018

Breach of the Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal

To keep up to ate with the progress of the repairs visits https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/north-west/middlewich-branch-breach

Midway Boats / Barbridge Marina is OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL. The breach is at the Middlewich Town end of this canal. Barbdrige Marina moorings and facilities are unaffected by this breach.

What this does mean is that for narrowboat owners and for boat rental hirers, navigation is going to be restricted to the Shropshire Union Canal (main line), Llangollen Canal and the Middlewich Branch between Barbridge Junction and Stanthorne Lock, with no access to the Trent & Mersey Canal or Cheshire Ring for quite some time.

The Canal & River Trust have engineers working on the breach and at the moment their best estimate is that repairs will take six months from June 2018 at a cost of between £2m and £3m for which they are currently fundraising.


Middlewich Branch Canal Breach

Below, are new reports from the Canal & River Trust website .....

18 April update ...

18 April - Contractors have installed a stone access road. Next, they will install the temporary stone ramp to allow construction vehicles access to the bed of the canal.

The design to repair the breach is progressing well. The topographic survey information shows that 2,800m3 of the embankment has been washed away – that's over 200 lorry loads - and it will need to be replaced. Engineers are assessing the condition of the arch of the aqueduct, currently there has been no structural damage to the arch, however due to the loss of ground, a careful assessment is needed to confirm whether construction vehicles can or cannot cross it.

Canl & River Trust are hoping to confirm realistic budgets and timescales by the end of May, but at the moment their best estimate is that repairs will take six months from June at a cost of between £2m and £3m.

29 March update ...

  • A fish rescue moved 300lb weight of fish to the Trent and Mersey Canal
  • Around 20 large trees were removed from the embankment and the River Wheelock
  • A dam has been put in place across the canal bed at Middlewich Aqueduct
  • 4 pumps have pumped up to 865,000 litres of water back into the canal to help the stranded boats move onto the Trent and Mersey Canal
  • Ecologists have completed a survey looking at the breach's impact on the local wildlife
  • 4 truckloads of debris were collected and removed.

We're in consistent contact with boaters who've been affected to keep them up to date on progress. Our waterway chaplains have been at hand on site, offering help to boaters that live on board.

Also, our team has been working extremely hard to update all local residents, as well as local landowners. It’s been one of our priorities to advise local schools of the safety precautions to make sure they understand the current situation regarding the breach.

Safety signs and barriers are now in place around the site.

Middlewich Branch Breach

23 March update ...

Principal engineer, Mark Durham, talks about what we've been up to on site over the last couple of days.

21 March update ...

Volunteer group SUMBA (Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Association) worked really hard alongside our local customer operations team clearing as much rubbish as possible from the bed of the drained canal. You can see from the photo just how much has accumulated in this short stretch.

We've installed a portadam downstream of Stanthorne Lock to start the process of re-watering the section. This will be done using three, six inch pumps which will pump water from the Trent & Mersey Canal by Wardle Lock to enable the stranded boats to be re-floated and allow them access onto the Trent & Mersey Canal. The pumps will be arriving by boat today and it is anticipated that pumping will start on Thursday morning.

Middlewich Branch Breach

19 March update ...

Project team manager, Clive Mitchell, has been at the site of the breach and gives a brief update in the short video below on the damage and what we're currently doing on-site.

17 March update ...

Middlewich Branch Breach

Fast action by emergency staff has resulted in nearly 10,000 fish being rescued from the stretch of canal in Middlewich affected by the breach.

MEM Fisheries staff spent a full day on Saturday rescuing roach, perch, gudgeon, bream and eels from the three quarter mile length between Stanthorne Lock and Wardle Lock on the Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch, which has been drained.

They collected the affected fish, including a massive 4lb eel, into large buckets and then released them back into water further along the canal beyond Wardle Lock, towards Middlewich town centre.

16 March update ...

Middlewich Branch Breach

Our emergency engineers were on site all night dealing with the breach, and the canal is currently 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.

We believe only one householder may be affected, with minor damage to their garden.

Between 15 and 20 boats are within the drained section and The Trust will be contacting all the owners today with offers of assistance.

The Middlewich Branch connects the Trent & Mersey Canal just south of Middlewich town to the Shropshire Union Canal at Barbridge Junction, a distance of about 10 miles. Constructed in 1827, it is nearly 200 years old.

Today our engineers are on site trying to understand the cause of the breach and will be making an initial assessment regarding how to progress repairs, likely timescales and costs.

What happened?

Part of the Shropshire Union Canal has collapsed, causing water to drain from the canal. While events such as this are rare - they are very expensive to repair. Our emergency engineers were quickly on the scene, but the collapse has impacted people and wildlife and we need to rebuild as quickly as possible.

Middlewich Branch Breach
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