Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wardle canal appeal

I was the county councillor for Middlewich in the 1990's and as everyone in the town knows the Wardle Canal in Middlewich is the shortest canal in the UK at 154 feet (47 m).

As wikipedia records: The canal lies in Middlewich, Cheshire, UK, and connects the Trent and Mersey Canal to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, terminating with a single lock known as Wardle Lock. It was built in 1829 so that the navigation authority of the Trent and Mersey Canal could maintain control over the junction.
The canal is in the news because Maureen Shaw has died. Maureen lived in the lock keepers house and was always around the tow path talking to boaters and others who went by. Maureen was born on a working boat and with her husband earned her living on the canals   She was not alone. One of our councillors from Sandbach Les Morris was also born and worked on the canals. In Les's case the nationalisation of the canals and their subsequent neglect was a story he often told with passion. To be fair Barbara Castle can be credited with taking an important policy shift in relationship to canals and their revival as a leisure industry.
There were several families in and around Middlewich who had worked on the canals. When I became councillor I received a briefing from a social worker about the impact it had on family life . It was bizarre and has stuck in my memory, it was a bit like the chapter in E Nesbit's Railway Children. Personally I didn't come across any issues relating to canal folk!
At this years Folk and Boat Festival in Middlewich an appeal was launched to commemorate Maureen Shaw. The intention is to install an 'interpretation panel' by the Wardle lock to tell the remarkable story of Maureen and all those who worked on the canals.  

1 comment:

  1. I met Maureen on several occasions as our boat passed through her lock. She was a typical character from "the cut".


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