A Letter from Nantwich
Updated September 2018
THE restoration of the Welsh Row
aqueduct - carrying the Shropshire Union Canal -
took eight weeks to complete between
September and November during which time the bridge
was closed to traffic. There was, however,
pedestrian access through a "tunnel" in the
scaffolding which held the protective screening for
the restoration team (see right).
Chester Road at the crossroads of Welsh Row and
Taylor Drive closed, diversions took vehicles (including
the public bus service) along the A51, Barony
Road, Beam Street (A530) and Waterlode (A534.).
The canal towpath was
diverted but traffic on the canal was unaffected.
A canal boat
crosses the aqueduct, but the tow path is closed to pedestrians
A Press release from Cheshire East Council said: "Improvements to the towpaths to create attractive
walking routes, plus other
related projects in and
all part of the partnership's vision for
celebrating the town's waterways history and the contribution it
makes to the boating holiday economy through
were "crucial" repairs to the structure, new signage, painting
removal of overgrown
vegetation, the release added .
was timed to start after the main
summer trade period for businesses at the marina and was
completed before the Christmas season.
has been done in full consultation with local members, the
Cheshire East transport team,
businesses at the marina and Malbank School,”
Cabinet member for highways, Cllr David Brown. The
facelift had been due to start at the end of March and would have
involved the closure of the A534 for the eight weeks.
At the time,
Canal and River Trust Project manager Marc Evans said: “This work needs to
be carried out, but we are mindful of the disruption that the
road closure will cause. Restoring the aqueduct
in September will be less disruptive and it also gives us the
opportunity to seek extra funding for additional work that has
been identified as being needed to its masonry."
aqueduct closed to vehicles, but there is a
"tunnel" through the scaffolding giving pedestrian access to the Basin End Marina
An additional £50,000
of funding was sought to cover the cost of the extra work.
who would like to support the restoration of the canals and the
trust's conservation work can become a Friend. See the link below,
The work on the aqueduct was
recognised in the 2016 Living Waterways Awards. Conserve
Nantwich Aqueduct won the Restoration and Historic Environment
award - one of nine categories of awards presented in a ceremony
at Birmingham Town Hall in September. An independent panel of
led by Christopher Rodrigues CBE,
chair of VisitBritain and trustee
of the National Trust,
travelled the country looking for
information board about the aqueduct
and canal traffic was installed on the canal towpath in July
It was produced by
the Canal and River Trust, supported by Nantwich Partnership and
here's a seasonal image of the aqueduct . . .
A 2015 Christmas card from
the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Andrew
Martin and Mrs Linda Martin (yes, I received one . .
.!) has a snowy image of the aqueduct (right) by
13-year-old Nantwich schoolgirl, Emily Roberts. She
competition arranged by Nantwich Town Council
to provide the cover image for the civic card.
The Mayor said: “It's a fantastic
Christmas card design, very topical with a lot of
thought behind it. I would like to congratulate
Emily and thank all other entrants for their hard
into Nantwich" all set for a £200,000 renovation
A TOTAL of £200,000 which
has been received by the Canal and River Trust will be
used to renovate the aqueduct - the "gateway" into
Nantwich - which is on the boundary of Welsh Row and Chester
The money comes
from the public (£130,000), Cheshire East Council
(£40,000), Nantwich Town Council (£20,000), Acton,
Edleston and Henhull Parish Council (£3,000) and the
Nantwich Partnership (£2,000).
An article on
the Canal and River Trust website in November 2014 said the work on renovating the bridge would
begin in the spring of 2015, but it was put back to
Engineer for the Canal and River Trust, Lee Bradley, had
quoted as saying: "We have worked together for five
years to raise the profile of the aqueduct and it is
only with help from members of the public and by working
in partnership that we now have the opportunity to carry
out this essential maintenance work."
The work list
includes: "preparation, four coats of paint, replacement
of a missing cast iron panel and important masonry
repairs". The aqueduct is said to be structurally sound.
designed by Thomas Telford in 1826, carries the
Shropshire Union Canal over the A534 in a cast iron
trough, supported on six arches.
The Canal and
River Trust described the structure as "one of
Cheshire's prized scheduled monuments".
Local Area Partnership (Cheshire East Council
River Trust | British
Front row: Cllr Penny
Butterill and Cllr Arthur Moran (Cheshire East Council
and Nantwich Town Council), the then Mayor of Nantwich (Cllr
Christine Farrall) and Cllr Peter Groves (Cheshire East
Council). Back row: Lee Bradley (Canal and River Trust), Jeff Stubbs (Nantwich
Partnership), Mike Houlston (Chairman
Acton, Edleston and Henhull Parish Council
Evans (Project Manager [Midlands], Canal and River Trust), who is
leading the renovation initiative.
Picture: Canal and River
Our town "gateway"
letter written in January 2008
such as Chester which have walls, have "city gates" across the roads
which lead into them. Our equivalent is the Nantwich Aqueduct which
carries the Shropshire Union Canal over the A51 Chester Road,
leading to Chester, North Wales and - via a turn-off - Wrexham.
Actually, the view of the
town's "gateway" (right) is as seen by motorists leaving
Nantwich. The other side of it - the side which greets motorists -
is not so attractive, somehow.
In fact, members of
Nantwich Town Council feel that the aqueduct is hitting tourism.
in September, as quoted in the Nantwich Chronicle, they said it was
giving "a negative image of the town." They asked British Waterways
to clean it up, citing:
They missed out that water was trickling
through the brickwork. Strangely, after being approached by The
Chronicle for a comment, a British Waterways spokesman seemed to
concentrate on the paintwork aspect. Pointing out that their grants
had been cut in the previous 12 months, they said "The aqueduct is
structurally sound and, unfortunately, a painting scheme is not a
high priority for us."
The spokesman said British Waterways
had "offered to
assist the council in finding grant funds."
A car heads out of
town for the village of Acton or places such as Chester and Wrexham
The then town councillor, Steve Hope
"All we want is a tidy up. Nothing fancy and I'm
sure it won't cost the earth to get it done," he said, adding
that it was the then British Waterways who owned the bridge, not the town.
As far as I know, that is
where the matter rests. But the Council has not given up. As I
discovered when I contacted Cllr Arthur Moran and Nantwich Town
Clerk at the time Riddell Graham, about a website I had found
which might help them in their quest. The site, Save our Waterways (www.saveourwaterways.org.uk/structures/nantwich.htm)
contained some excellent pictures of the aqueduct and its defects
and comments from people who know about waterways. Back in 2011
those pictures and details had been removed.
[The position in November
2014: The link above takes you to a website headed Waterways and
the Save Our Waterways address, but mainly features cruise ship travel.]
But, according to an
article on that
website in 2008, British Waterways said, on December 18, 2007,
"Our asset management team
recently took another look at Nantwich Aqueduct and confirmed its
C-rating on our principal asset list. This does not mean that the
structure is in "good" condition or that no works are needed on it,
but it does mean that it has been assessed by qualified engineers as
"We have a
long list of works needed across the network but have to prioritise
those structures (Ds and Es) in urgent need of repair due to
likelihood of failure. As ever there are no easy decisions about how
we allocate finite funds, which is why we have to prioritise urgent
Ds and Es? They
are British Waterways' grades of structures, apparently: A = very
good, B = good, C = fair, D = poor, and E = bad. And it seems that
20% of their "principal assets" are graded as in either D or E
condition. So our "gateway" isn't in those categories. Yet.
clearly has to become worse before anything
can be done.
Moran said: "The Town Council has been pressing British Waterways to
do something about
aqueduct. Also, as a County Councillor, I have tried to get them
involved in the Welsh Row scheme, with, for instance, a gateway into Nantwich."
The Town Clerk told me: "We
are currently trying to get
British Waterways to refurbish the bridge, so any background of
this type is useful."
Back in September 2007, Cllr
Hope said: "Welsh Row is a major street in our tourism efforts
and people driving under the aqueduct must be thinking: 'What
have we come to?' "
Well, yes, they might think
that if they have a chance to study the structure. The aqueduct
stands at the point where they are looking where to go next.
from the small stone showing the Shropshire Union Canal
Company's existence (pictured far left), I spotted a rusting metal
post (right) marking the boundary between the former Nantwich Urban
District Council's territory (it just says "Nantwich D C" with a
smoothed area where the U used to be) and that of Cheshire County
This is just on the town side of the aqueduct -
although within the bridge parapet area) which puts the
main aqueduct structure firmly on county council land. A possible source of
Cost of study
IT will cost £7,000 to carry out a feasibility study
on the state of Nantwich Aqueduct - and £100,000 to clean it up and repair it.
That's the bad news Nantwich Town
Council have had from British Waterways - who are citing lack of funds for the
work. They are still offering to help the council to find extra money, but the
councillors are not happy - according to the Nantwich Chronicle (March 5)
British Waterways say the costs are
based on work carried out on other bridges in their care.
British Waterways set the price
THE estimated cost of repairing the aqueduct was set
at £426,000 by British Waterways, according to The Nantwich Chronicle of
September 15. The newspaper added that members of Nantwich Town Council,
Cheshire East Council and Nantwich Civic Society were to meet British Waterways
to discuss ways of attracting funding for the work.
FOOTNOTE: British Waterways ceased to exist
in 2012 and split into two new bodies. See the link above.
Hopes of restoring aqueduct
IN the Winter 2011 edition of "Talk of the Town"
(the newsletter of Nantwich Town Council) an article reports that British
Waterways say they have money to repair leaks and the ironwork but they have
none to repaint the aqueduct.
However, they are hoping to get
funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and sources such as WREN (the waste
A meeting is to be held early in 2012 to discuss ways of
raising money, with hopes that the work " will be completed
before the Nantwich and South Cheshire Show and
International Cheese Show in July 2013.
Apart from rusting to the ironwork and
some leakage of water, there is "nothing dangerous" say British Waterways.
The Leader of the Town Council, Cllr
John Lewis, is quoted as saying: "This is a project the town council feels
worthwhile. We may be in a position to contribute towards the painting costs of
this historic gateway to the town. Since British Waterways are intending to
carry out some engineering work it may be possible to put a limited amount
towards restoring this Nantwich landmark. We will consider it further."
Letters index page
| Another Letter from Nantwich featuring the aqueduct
| Cheshire East Council succeeds Cheshire
County Council |See also the