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News article created on 19 April 2016

Giant hoover cleans up Smethwick Aqueduct

Silt and debris from the bottom of Smethwick’s 190-year old Engine Arm Aqueduct has been sucked out of the canal by a giant hoover ahead of repairs to stop this Grade II* listed structure from leaking.

Smethwick Aqueduct

The silt, which has built up over a period of decades, was sucked up by a giant super hoover so that engineers can get into the bottom of the aqueduct and carry out repairs to sections of the 200 year old brick work and waterproof liner. Enough silt to fill 1,000 baths tubs was removed from the aqueduct.

The 52-foot long aqueduct was built in 1825 by renowned engineer Thomas Telford and carries the Engine Arm Canal over the Birmingham Canal Navigation in Smethwick.

Canals over canals

Historically, this Scheduled Ancient Monument helped to transfer a vital supply of water from a pumping station in Smethwick to ensure the canals around the West Midlands were kept topped up. It is one of only a few aqueducts in the Midlands to carry a canal directly over the top of another canal.

Simon Hughes, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “Just before Christmas we drained the aqueduct and we found that parts of the brickwork and sections of the liner had eroded and this was what was causing the leaks.

“Over the next few weeks we plan to install a new liner, repoint sections of the brick work and replace any missing or badly damaged bricks and stone. Once the work is finished the aqueduct should once again be watertight.”

The work has been partly funded by Historic England, and is expected to finish by the end of May.