Pennine Waterways News

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Canal to be fenced off

A 3 ft 6 in high "safety fence" is to be erected alongside Canal Street in Manchester, next to the stone wall between the street and the canal. The fence will have stainless steel posts alongside the wall, curving to support a stainless steel rail above the wall, with the space between wall and rail filled by reinforced glass panels.

This follows a recommendation for improved safety measures by a coroner after the death of a man who had climbed down from the wall to rescue his stepson who had fallen into the canal. His stepson eventually climbed out of the water by himself.

The proposals for the fence, which will cost more than £200,000 to build, will be put to the city's planning committee shortly.

If the plan is approved, the fence will change the appearance of the historic canalside location. Unusually for a canal, the street itself forms part of the towpath. The wall betwen the street and canal is around 2 ft 6 in high, so as not to obstruct towing ropes, although it is lower in some parts.

The fence would make it impossible for boats to be horse-drawn along this section of the Rochdale Canal. The photo below shows that horse-drawn boats do occasionally use the canal and also demonstrates why the wall needed to be that height.

Although the need for safety is understood, many canal users are unhappy with the proposed fence, fearing it will be detrimental to the important and unique heritage value of Canal Street.

The design of the proposed fence can be seen here. Other documents relating to the proposals can be viewed here. Comments can be submitted here on the council's planning website. The public consultation period ends on 15th May.

Boathorse preparing to tow a boat out of the lock on Canal Street, Manchester. Photo: Bob Jervis

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