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Heartland

Proposed Canals

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There are times when those who suggested canal improvement may have made a significant improvement to the UK canal and river network, yet through a variety of factors have failed to materialise. Perhaps the most ambitious was the MacFarlane report of 1965 for the IWA. In 1963 the IWA looked for an improved waterway network for the remainder of the 20th century and extending into the 21st Century, suggested in 2 phases one conclusion was the revival of a canal across England at the 300ft contour. Despite the engineering challenges, such as scheme may well have improved traffic by boat and reduced the amount of heavy goods by road.

 

But then canal and river improvement had been on going since 1906. What was accomplished was far less and only the Trent, Grand Union, Aire & Calder and Sheffield & South Yorkshire has seen improvements for trade.

 

The Leisure Trade has encouraged canal restoration with new lengths made to enable continued navigation, but what chance is there for the future. A flagship plan to build a canal link from the Ouse to the Milton Keynes has been hampered by a new road project. If built will this waterway be of use for just the boaters, or will there be a trade aspect as well? 

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Simple economics dictate that with a very few exceptions the inland waterways of the UK are no longer a viable method of commercial transport. Dreaming does not alter the hard facts. 

  • Greenie 1

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I believe that dreaming was not the point of all these suggestions. There were genuine reasons for the proposals and those that invested in such schemes had the hope of adoption. Yet all working canals today came about through those willing to risk capital for the canal to be built. The IWA report of 1965 mentions that canals came about in a haphazard process. I do not agree with that statement as finance for schemes was often dictated by the demands of industry and commerce. Canals reduced transport costs as did tramroads and railways. All originally had limited horizons. With Canals those horizons expanded with the linking up to form a network of navigations. For railways they might have remained small operations, but mergers and the Railway Clearing House helped create that network.

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Connecting the Slough Arm through to the Thames would be a viable commercial waterway for refuse, non-time dependant goods and Leisure. 

Unfortunately, due to the weed and shopping bags, you cant even get to the end of the Slough arm these days

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HS2 will wreck the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union at Stanthorne, but CRT have managed to close the canal already for an indefinite period.

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12 hours ago, Heartland said:

I believe that dreaming was not the point of all these suggestions. There were genuine reasons for the proposals

Yes - 50 years ago. The world has moved on.

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