The Staffs & Worcs Canal is my favourite English inland waterway. I am not sure what makes it more attractive to me than all the others:t part of the reason must be the feeling that in parts the canal has not changed since the days of its commercial life. Like all the canals in England, it was built for working boat manned by working men and women and, like all these canals, it is now only used for leisure purposes. One consequence of this change in users is that the original features and structures were not subjected to 21st century health & Safety risk assessment.
Stourport, where the canal joins the River Severn always reminds me of the kind of layout one might design for a model: it has broad locks, narrow locks, staircases locks, a dry dock, a boat buildeer, chandlery, several basins and all watched over by a clock tower.
Some of the quaintest features like this footbridge at The Bratch flight of locks would never pass the design stage nowadays.
Last June a young lad tragically died in Stourport cycling across an unsuitable bridge across the staircase locks. The inquest in December 2011 heard that there were signs at Stourport Basin banning cycling, and the edge of the lock and the side of the bridge's parapet were clearly marked. Worcestershire coroner, Geraint Williams, dismissed the need for specific warning signs because some things were 'inherently dangerous'. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
|Photo courtesy of John Slee|
The response of British Waterways has been to erect scaffolding frames around such bridges as a 'temporary 'Health and Safety measure.
This is another illustration of how out of touch BW is with the practicalities of boating on their canals.
At the following site John Slee of NABO explains in some detail the irresponsibility of this structure.