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Canal breach provides engineering insight for local school

Learning about a recent canal breach on the Shropshire Union Canal near Middlewich has given local school children the opportunity to learn more about geotechnical engineering.



The embankment collapsed on 15 March

Children from St Mary’s Primary School in Middlewich visited the site of the collapse, which happened in March, and learnt about the £3M fund raising appeal for the repair work.

Canal and Rivers Trust project manager Andy Johnson, who is overseeing the repair works, took a class of year six children to see the breach in the canal after the embankment collapsed on the 200-year-old Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

In preparation for the site visit, staff visited St Mary’s to explain the project at a school assembly in early May and after half term will be returning to discuss the children’s engineering solutions.

“A canal breach of this magnitude is a very rare event so we are keen to create as many positives as we can out of the setback,” said Canal and Rivers Trust engagement manager Ani Sutton. “We have hosted a number of community groups at the site and the emergency work has been a brilliant opportunity to enthuse local schoolchildren about engineering and the amazing canal they have on their doorstep.

“The youngsters loved getting dressed up in the safety gear, like real civil engineers, and who knows, we may have inspired some to try engineering as a career. It certainly strikes home the challenge of maintaining a man-made canal network which is around two centuries old.”

Johnson added: “Our emergency response started the day after the breach happened to make the site safe by removing debris blocking the River Wheelock, installing dams either side of the breach, removing dangerous trees and rescuing stranded boats. Since then a temporary access road and construction site compound have been established next to the breach and an access route along the canal bed is being constructed.”

So far £25,000 has been raised towards the £3M repair costs. To contribute to the appeal, please please go to canalrivertrust.org.uk/donate or alternatively text LEAK515 to 70070 to donate £5

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