Lichfield Canal - Restoration

Restoration

Plans to restore the Lichfield Canal were first raised in 1975, when area planning authorities were required to produce county structure plans. The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) encouraged all members to ensure that local waterways were properly noted in the structure plans. Ideas for the restoration were put before the West Midlands planning team. Although the scheme was deemed to be unviable, interest in restoration continued, and the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT) was formed to promote the restoration of the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal. Lichfield District Council allowed the Trust to start work on a half-mile (0.8 km) section near Fosseway Lane in 1990. In 1993, the Trust published detailed plans for the Ogley Locks Branch, now formally branded the "Lichfield Canal".

All 7 miles (11 km) of the canal are within the jurisdiction of Lichfield District Council. The Trust is working on three main sites, as they have become available. The first site was the half mile at Fossway Lane, bounded by locks 18 and 19, which was owned by the council. The second was at Darnford Lane, on either side of lock 29, which was bought by the council in 1995, using a Derelict Land Grant. The third was at Tamworth road, covering locks 24 to 26. The upper two have been largely restored, while lock 24 was excavated to assess its condition, but has been filled in again to conserve it, pending a decision on how the canal will cross Cricket Lane, immediately upstream from the lock. This whole area has been landscaped, and designated the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park.

Restoration was threatened by the construction of the M6 Toll motorway around the north of Birmingham, which cut across the canal's route. The Inspector heading the enquiry for the Northern Relief Road ruled that the contractor would only be responsible for the footings for a new aqueduct to carry the canal over the motorway, and that the Trust would need to raise the costs for the rest of the structure. An appeal was launched for funds, headed by the actor David Suchet, and together with a grant of £250,000 from the Manifold Trust, the £450,000 cost was met, the road contractors built the supporting columns, and on 16 August 2003, a steel trough was craned into position, having been pre-fabricated by Rowecord Engineering Ltd, who are based in South Wales. (The aqueduct has been finished but the canal has yet to reach it, giving it an odd appearance). This had a beneficial side-effect – the Government promised that never again would a new road be built in the path of a waterway restoration scheme, unless an aqueduct or tunnel was provided.

A new bridge taking Cappers Lane over the canal near Whittington was opened on 21 April 2006.

By August 2010, most of the work on a by-wash for lock 25, adjacent to the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park, had been carried out by members of the Restoration Trust, with help from the Waterways Recovery Group during weekend visits to Lichfield. The canal between Lock 25 and 26 was filled with water in April 2011, this was the first part of the canal to have been filled with water since restoration works started.

Read more about this topic:  Lichfield Canal

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