Friday, 18 June 2010


Droitwich - canal magnet
Monday 31st May 2010

OK, it's not a canal magnet just yet but it soon will be.

It wouldn't be a proper canal restoration project without a false dawn or two, and this one is no exception.

West of the M5

After all the developments east of the M5 we skirted round under the road bridge expecting to find the finishing touches being applied prior to a grand reopening, only to have our hopes dashed.

Unfinished business

Sure the river section beyond the M5 is very lovely with its sweeping tree / meadow lined bends and new lock but then it stops. Abruptly.

The Droitwich Junction canal lies poised about to take it's final step into the River Salwarp, which will propel it into the waiting arms of it's suitor at the Barge Lock when the ceremony is cancelled. The line of the canal is clear and just one more lock is needed , but instead we have weed infested mud.

Droitwich barge lock

Having followed the route closely we were obliged to make a detour to Barge Lock which has been re-restored by the WRG and is all set to go. What has happened? Answer - the recession.
You see, the old line of the canal ran to the south and is now covered by roads and an old garage site. The redevelopment of the garage was the final key to the project, resolving the last land ownership issue as well as the funding. As we scouted the area we came across a very canal like "Toll House" which must have stood beside the old entrance to the Junction Canal. It now stands stranded on a cross roads far from the new line.

Toll House

By contrast  the Barge Canal stands ready for boats with a lovely pool overlooked by the parish church on the hill above. To add the the boaters delight there is a big Waitrose a hundred yards away and then a few hundred yards further down the canal opens out into a pretty basin fringed by trees and parkland. See why this will be a boaters Mecca?

Droitwich town moorings

We decided to be trailblazers and stock up with provisions at Waitrose noting the three charity boxes on the way out into which customers deposit tokens identifying which charity will be the recipient. Interestingly, the Canal Restoration Trust has as many tokens as the other two put together, suggesting that the whole community is behind the canal restoration effort.

The public vote

We took a walk another half mile downstream, outside the town and to a point where we ran out of structures. From here on the canal is just about finished and BW are planning a re-opening of the Barge Canal end in late 2010. Hurray!

With boats navigating up to Droitwich from the Severn maybe sufficient momentum will be generated to bridge that last half mile!

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