Market Drayton canal work shortened after concerns over lost tourist trade

Planned work to Market Drayton's canal towpath has been shorted – after criticism over the impact the development could have on tourism.

The Canal and Rivers Trust had been warned that its plans for work on the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton would devastate the town's tourist trade throughout the post-lockdown summer.

The trust is resurfacing and widening the towpath throughout the town from the Victoria Bridge to the Market Drayton Aqueduct, and the work was initially scheduled to last from July 5 to September 10.

Under the plan, the visitor moorings would also have been fully closed.

Now the trust has said the work will run from July 12 to September 3 instead, and that there will be 'supervised access' to visitor moorings, and overnight mooring permitted.

The trust has also pledged to open up sections of the towpath as soon as possible.

A statement from the trust said: "To carry out the work safely the towpath will initially be closed. As soon as is practically possible sections of the towpath will be reopened to provide access from the canal to the town nearby.

"During the work, the canal will remain open to boaters who will have supervised access to the visitor moorings and the customer services facilities. Overnight mooring will be permitted."

Adnan Saif, regional director for West Midlands at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Whilst we appreciate that doing this work over the summer isn’t ideal for boaters and local people, we do need to drier, warmer weather in order to carry out the work as quickly as possible while causing the least amount of disruption.

"We are aiming to keep sections of the towpath open during the works so that local people and visitors can still access nearby shops, pubs and restaurants."

Lisa Machin

Lisa Machin, director of the Talbot Wharf boatyard in Market Drayton, had warned the closure would be a hammer blow to the summer trade, preventing visitors from mooring in the town and visiting shops and restaurants which have been starved of trade during lockdown.

Figures show around 12,000 boats use the canal to travel through the town every year.

Mrs Machin said that the efforts to reduce disruption were welcome, but that she still expects the work to have significant impact on the number of visitors to the town.

She said: "It is better but it won't really make a difference. It's depressing really, all of the stuff about losing trade for the town still stands."

She added: "It is like being a motorway service station without a car park."

Despite the concern over the work Mrs Machin said she had been heartened by the community response to the worries.

She said: "The one thing that is really good is we habe been impressed by the level of support from everyone getting on board and adding their voice to it. It is just amazing the impact that the canal has."

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News