A hit-and-run car crash in Worcestershire has once again prompted us to call again for motorists to slow down when crossing 200-year old hump back bridges.
We have been left with a repair bill expected to top £30,000 after a large vehicle slammed into the Grade II listed bridge that crosses the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Offerton. the vehicle dislodged six metres of masonry, which were left hanging perilously over the towpath below. This is the fourth time in recent years that these parapets have been damaged by vehicles crashing into them.
Each year we have to spend over £1million to repair historic canal bridges across the country, after they’ve been damaged by reckless or careless drivers. In most cases these are hit-and-run accidents, leaving us unable to recoup its cost from driver’s insurers, and diverting vital funds away from work to conserve the nation’s waterways.
Work to repair the bridge (number 24 on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal) began on 9 June and is expected to be completed towards the end of next week. Offerton Lane will remain closed while the repairs are done.
David Viner, Canal & River Trust heritage adviser, said: “Hump-back bridges are synonymous with our wonderful 18th century canals, so it’s heart-breaking to see them damaged in such a careless way. It can be a real headache to do the repairs, which cost huge amounts and causes delays for people when the road and the canal have to be closed.
"We’re working with the local authority to get the work done as quickly as possible, but we also need to make sure we get it right, as the bridge, like so many we have, is listed which means the materials we use have to be very specific and the repair is quite intricate.
“Frankly, if motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care then they would stop this vandalism of our heritage. It really isn’t rocket science – if you see a hump-back bridge then slow down. This is particularly important for drivers of heavy goods vehicles and farm tractors with trailers where even a slight nudge can do significant damage. You will save yourself and us a great deal of expense and aggravation.”