Monday, 6 July 2009

Ulverston Canal to be restored

Delighted to read that the Ulverston Canal is to be restored, so marking the first stage of a plan to create a Cumbria Ring that involved the Ribble Link, the Ulverston, the Forth & Clyde, the Humber and the Leeds & Liverpool. I expect to see Canaltime boats shortly with SOLAS certificates and a plimsoll line.

The Ulverston Canal, opened in 1789, was last used in 1916, and abandoned in 1945; more recently, the entrance lock-gate was cemented up.

Oddly enough, the restoration plans seem to rely on the canal being well-known; apparently it is famous as the world's "shortest, widest and deepest canal"; there is something absurdly useless about that statement - it can only have been invented by some witless marketing muppet. Typically, though, despite lots of gushing vision statements about the canal, it turns out that there are no plans for boats or boaters. Why on earth would anyone want boats on a canal? A cursory examination of the plans shows no tunnels in which rare bats can hang out, so it is not clear why boats are to be excluded. Given that the canal has just one lock to restore, it seems even more odd. The WRG tend to do "one lock" jobs blindfolded during a teabreak.
It would seem to be perfect as a yacht marina, possibly attracting a wide variety of craft as with the Exeter Canal.

In days gone by, there was a passenger packet service from Ulverston to Liverpool.

The decision to exclude boats is perhaps ironic, given that the model everywhere else is to fleece boaters and subsidise the leisure pursuits of every other user. Maybe this time, the good planners of Ulverston can find a way to make dog-walkers and horse-riders pay. Or cleverer still, do a half-arsed, ham-fisted job of it all, but good enough to last a few years until promotion sucks the planners away elsewhere; then the canal will sink back into graffiti and obscurity as South Cumbria's prime dogging land mattress dumping ocation.

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