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Waterway to end it all

What’s this! Larry Neild admitting he got something wrong? Make 'im walk the plank

Published on November 4th 2008.


Waterway to end it all

I USED to escape the world of journalism, politics and city life by heading for my country retreat. Every Friday I’d leave the office, throw the dogs in the car and spend the weekend in Cheshire. Thinking about it, me and the Squire of Frodsham (Prof Phil Redmond) would practically be neighbours.

A few days ago,
the wraps were
taken off the first stretch of Pier Head canal. And guess what, it’s brilliant

My back garden was the Cheshire plains. It may sound grand, but my “spread” was a 25ft long fibreglass cabin cruiser moored on the Shropshire Union canal.

When I bought my little floating mansion it was called Lancashire Lass. I could have changed it to Lancashire Lassie I suppose, but instead opted for Rover. An old sea salt, watching my artwork, interrupted :”It’s reet bad luck to change the name of a boat.” I almost responded, except I didn’t like the cut of his jib.

A week later “Rover” was sitting on the bottom of the Shroppie. She’d been the victim of a hit-and-run. Word on the towpath was, at twilight, a 42ft steel barge had crashed into poor Rover, cracking her hull. The culprit sped off at 5mph into the darkness.

During my days as Sailor Laz I spotted a headline: The Most Dangerous Stretch of Canal in England. It meant the Leeds-Liverpool canal through north Merseyside, suggesting brave boat owners needed somebody riding shotgun.

So when British Waterways announced it was to spend something like the cost of building the Panama Canal on a new waterway across Liverpool Pier Head, I switched from being Clarke Kent of the Daily Moon to Outraged of Cheshire. A canal! Across the hallowed Pier Head! Just so a handful of people with nothing better to do than plod along at 4mph could take their narrow boats to the Albert Dock!

When I had Rover, I cruised no further than the first lock (where there was a brilliant pub near Beeston Castle called the Shady Oak. I could enjoy a few rums and risk nothing worse than being drunk in charge of a dog). Locks are a real pain, all that filling and emptying, opening and closing lock gates.

The rail bridge crossing the Mersey at Runcorn was originally planned as an aqueduct, carrying a a canal into Liverpool. They haggled so long that by the time they raised the cash, canals had had their day. We were now at the age of steam. Imagine if they had gone ahead, we’d all be boarding the inter-city Virgin Canal Boat to London. Journey time around nine days.

A few days ago, the wraps were taken off the first stretch of Pier Head canal. And guess what, it’s brilliant; a fantastic feat of civil engineering. It looks classy, robust and attractive and will attract people to the waterfront, watching those (sometimes irritating, admittedly) bargees passing by.

So, yes I was wrong about a canal at the Pier Head. British Waterways and contractors Balfour Beatty have created a something good in the first new canal in the UK for well over a century.

It’s a pity poor old Rover will never pass that way.

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DigNovember 4th 2008.

As good as it looks how many people can and will actually make use of it? 20 million quid to allow a few boats and barges a few more miles up the canal seems a tad excessive. It appears it's just been built for sake of building something as there aren't any immediately noticable benefits to the city. At the end of the canal are they going to build a huge barge park where 1000's of barges will park up and allow their crew into the city? Is Liverpool on the verge of a new maritime renaissance of bargees? I don't think so. It's nothing more than 'a nice touch' to the already world famous waterfront. For 20 million quid 'a nice touch' doesn't quite cut it for me.

ADNovember 4th 2008.

here here bring back the overhead railway!!

allan cohenNovember 4th 2008.

Accept the fact that Liverpool has a national reputation as the home of scroungers, druggies and theives. Why? There is no smoke without some fire. You only have to look at the terrible recent incident where the boy was shot on his way home to see the kind of place Liverpool must be. Would I let my children travel there? Not without police escorts. It must be a hell hole if young children are murdered on the streets in broad daylight.

4 canal mate ya 2 hatNovember 4th 2008.

Ay you ya twat. never mind condoms, bottles and dead dogs. if yer so smart mate how come you forgot about supermarket trolleys? There's a few on our estate from the kwiky. Sound mate, better than leavin them on the street.

AnonymousNovember 4th 2008.

We are having ice skating at Christmas, and maybe the big wheel again.

milkoNovember 4th 2008.

wait for the first compo claim to go in because someone has tripped into the water.scrounger scousers will do anything to scam money from families and pensioners.

truthNovember 4th 2008.

It will just become a dumping ground for condoms, bottles, prams, and dead dogs. You can change the city of liverpool but, alas, you cannot change the class of people that have spoiled it over the years.Wait for the first headlines about canal boats being burned, children being drowned, needles and syringes, and the cost of policing this expensive folly.Truth be told, the people of liverpool are only happy with dirt and squalor. Give them anything half decent and it is wrecked in no time. Thank God that the Trafford Centre went to Manchester where it can be appreciated by decent folk.p.s. wait for the "we are funny and witty scouser" comments. Typical living in a fictional past.

MNovember 4th 2008.

Ah, Bond is obviously not a clever Bond otherwise he would realise that this is all a giant pisstake.

Dobbiethe IT girlNovember 4th 2008.

Calm down Calm down. Liverpool needs to get rid of its working class, football obsessed, undereducated loser image. The best way to do this is stop spending on extreme minorities and cater for the middle classes with a few honest readies.Canal boating is a peaceful and legitimate pastime of middle age and wealth. Get them into the city and exploit them economically through their spending power. If the canal can be sold as a tourist detination massive opportunities for high value transactions are possible.River cruises, speedboats, jetskis etc etc.Liverpool is the most colorful city in the world ruined by criminals and a well documented history of benefit fraudsters and tax evaders.Get rid of this image, expunge the criminals and milk the tourist industry to enable development of modern industries such as prisons, call centres, and warehousing.IT is the future for liverpool.

DigNovember 4th 2008.

If there were no locks and you could take a speedy canal cab up and down the canal into The Albert Dock or anywhere of interest in the opposite direction from various points then I would retract my statement and say that the extension is an excellent idea but you can't. So I won't.

Lord StreetNovember 4th 2008.

Dear Mr. "Truth", the Trafford Centre isn't 'in' Manchester, it's next to a sewage farm in a place called Ploppington or Little ****tington-on-the-Bog or something. Apart from the Selfridges it's a bit crap anyway. All it has is acres of parking, whereas Liverpool One (which I think of as similarly depressing) at least has a city and a city's amenities outside the doors.

Professor ChucklebuttyNovember 4th 2008.

Truth, thanks for the tip-off. I shall get straight down there with my fishing net. Most of our house was furnished from things found floating in the canal but it was such a hike over to Manchester, thank goodness we now have our own. Happy new year!

QNovember 4th 2008.

Don't be negative, Crabbe! If we were Mancunians apparently we would worship those ugly fibreglass cars with a zealous enthusiasm for trashy novelty and we’d “forge ahead” with shambolic “regeneration” (i.e., untrammelled property development) destroying our handsome historic buildings in the name of ‘progress’ (i.e., short-term profit for the developers).

BondNovember 4th 2008.

Typical scouse moaners. Always so negative. Thats why Manchester forges ahead whilst you backward people in Liverpool lag behind. Don't suppose you'llever change.

For CoughNovember 4th 2008.

Milko,Topsy,Mazzy, and Ally the Four Halfwits of the apocolypse or more likely one sad little pr*ck.

KrapNovember 4th 2008.

What, like that Nadia bird?

AnonymousNovember 4th 2008.

I quite fancy an onion bargee. Mmmm. Tasty

DigNovember 4th 2008.

Truth you idiot. There are canals all over Britain. People will unfortunately drown occasionally anywhere there is water. I have never read about boats being burned in Liverpool. Things get dumped in canals everywhere. There are a lower classes of people who have no respect in every town and city. As for The Trafford Centre, you can have that eyesore, we have Liverpool One.The only dirt and squalor around here is the rubbish coming out of your mouth.

Captain WebbNovember 4th 2008.

Will the Pier Head canal double as a free outdoor swimming pool? We've had nothing like that since the closed the outdoor pool in sunny New Brighton. Those were the days.

Mark My WordsNovember 4th 2008.

or shopping trollies even

Ikea the fire bobbyNovember 4th 2008.

Hey Krap, you may disagree but there is no need to be so offensive by suggesting they are from Warrington. Anyway, the Triffid centre wont last, I saw a film about it. People were initially blinded by it but it follows ice cream vans and will eventualy get destroyed by rain water.

Mark My WordsNovember 4th 2008.

There will be shopping rollies in it before dusk.

truthNovember 4th 2008.

Wander down to the newly filled canal. already it is full of rubbish and floating debris.Nothing changes - you cant take the skiver out of Skiverpool.

KrapNovember 4th 2008.

"Truth" sounds like a sad little twat from Warrington. Run along back to your Ikea now. They've named a toilet seat after you.

DigNovember 4th 2008.

I mentioned The Overhead Railway AND a monorail loop in a rant about train fares a few weeks back you thieving so and so's. We should bring a section of it back. Maybe restore the tunnel between Greens Gym and The Dingle with a museum inside. As for the monorail, lets get Lyle Lanley in to build it.

berniwooNovember 4th 2008.

Monorail!! I've been saying for years we should have them!!

Buster CrabbeNovember 4th 2008.

Is Bond still making those silly three-wheeler cars?

Lord StreetNovember 4th 2008.

What we really need in this city is an overhead monorail.

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