Thursday, 15 July 2010

Droitwich Preview

The Droitwich Canals are due to re-open. The Barge Canal, from the River Severn to the town, "later this year" and the Junction Canal, which will link with the Worcester & Birmingham, following probably in 2011 after a few last-minute funding problems have been overcome. The latest news is here. The Droitwich Canals Trust has been working towards this end since 1973 and must be very pleased and proud that the re-opening is at last in sight.
On a journey home from Birmingham, I got off the train at Droitwich to see things for myself.
The restored canals will pass through the town at Vines Park, a large and attractive public open space just off the town centre.
Transit of the park will be a slow process, with no fewer than four pedestrian swing-bridges to negotiate. The particular needs of single-handed boaters appear to have been overlooked, with bridge mooring-bollards provided on the opposite side of the cut to the bridge mechanism. Notice too how the mooring is already popular with fishermen!
Another of the swing bridges
Moorings for visiting boats are being installed in the park and will be handy for the town centre and railway station. Hopefully a way will be found to link them to the bank before re-opening!
The Barge Canal will end at the last of the broad locks where boats will lock down into the River Salwarpe for a short way before joining the Junction Canal which, like the Worcester & Birmingham it leads too, has narrow locks. Note yet another swing bridge, this one across the lock chamber!
Some boats have already returned to the canal, but hopefully there will be many more in the weeks to come, some perhaps providing additional custom for the Railway Inn, which overlooks this scene from the left.
The Barge Canal passes under the bridge in the foreground (the railway is on the embankment behind the pub) but I'm afraid the Railway Inn will have to smarten itself up a bit if it wants to attract much custom from boaters - and it will have to improve its beer quality if it wants any more of mine! Fortunately, there are much better pubs in the town and I hope that next time I call in for a pint I'll have "Starcross" tied-up just down the road!

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