An appeal has been launched by the Canal and Rivers Trust to raise funds to repair a section of the Shropshire and Union Canal that failed earlier this month after the costs were estimated to be between £2M and £3M.
A 70m section of embankment on the Middlewich Branch of the canal was breached on 16 March, leaving the canal drained between Stanthorne Lock and Wardle Lock, on the south side of Middlewich town centre.
The trust said it is still investigating the exact cause of the breach but initial work has suggested that it was most likely caused by an increase flow of water along the canal due to paddles at lock gates being left open.
“The increased flow is likely to have overtopped the canal at the breach site which, together with an already sodden embankment following a wet winter, caused the bank to wash away,” said the trust in a statement.
Canal and Rivers Trust engagement manager Ani Sutton said: “The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal is hugely popular with the local community and boaters and we’ve been overwhelmed already by the love and support everyone is offering. So far, I’ve heard from people potentially planning to wash cars at Tescos, offers of help from Morrisons, support from the council, and others planning local tombola’s and a whole lot more.
“Breaches like this are very rare but, as a charity, something of this scale and cost really sets us back, diverting precious resources from other work on the waterways. We’ve launched an emergency appeal to raise money towards the repairs. We want to thank everyone who has already donated.”
Anyone wishing to support the emergency appeal to repair the breach can log on to Middlewich Breach or alternatively text LEAK515 to 70070 to donate £5*. Donations will go directly to repairing the canal.