Whitchurch ‘needs to cash in on canal benefits’
A waterways trust is exploring ways of bringing the benefits of a popular canal to Whitchurch town centre.
Chris Chambers, chair of the Whitchurch Waterways Trust, and a lock keeper at Grindley Brook and Lower Frankton, is keen for the canal in Whitchurch to help the town, as happens in Ellesmere.
In Ellesmere, the canal basin is in the middle of the town, and avenues are being explored to take the canal closer to the centre of Whitchurch.
Last year there were in excess of 16,000 boat movements past Whitchurch, and Mr Chambers insists the town needs to take advantage of that.
He said: “Here in Whitchurch we are actively exploring ways of getting the canal back as close as possible to the town centre.
“After the canal leaves Nantwich, there are no real facilities for boaters until they get to Whitchurch.
“Whilst a small percentage of visitors do come up into the town, many choose to cruise for another five hours or so, about a day, and move on to Ellesmere, where the canal basin is right in the middle of town. Here in Whitchurch we need to key into this lost revenue.
“Last year there were more than 16,000 boat movements past the Whitchurch Arm.
“Private sector research shows that the average spend per capita on a night’s stay by those on a boat is around £63.
“Our surveys last year revealed that on average the boats staying on the canal in Whitchurch had four occupants. At the moment we are not fully benefiting from this traffic.”
The breach last month restricted boats arriving in the area from the north, but boats wishing to travel north are having to take different routes through the county.
He said: “Those whose boats are to the west are having to look towards the Shropshire network. Already we have seen a significant increase in traffic through Grindley Brook, over Easter we had in excess of 40 boats.”