THE CANAL and River Trust has been left with a repair bill totalling more than £30,000 after a large vehicle hit an historic Grade II listed bridge that crosses the Worcester to Birmingham Canal at Offerton.
The incident, which dislodged six metres of masonry and left it hanging precariously over the towpath below, has prompted a plea from the organisation to motorists to slow down.
Each year the Trust has to spend more than £1million on repairing historic canal bridges across the country that have been damaged by drivers.
And a lot of the cases – including this one – are hit-and-run incidents where drivers leave the scene and leave the trust unable to claim the cost on the motorist’s insurance.
That diverts vital funds away from the organisation’s work to conserve the nation’s waterways.
This latest strike is the fourth time in recent years that the 200-year-old bridge at Offerton has been hit.
David Viner, the Canal and River Trust’s heritage advisor, said: “Hump-back bridges are synonymous with our wonderful 18th century canals, so it’s heart-breaking to see them damaged in such a careless way.
“It can be a real headache to do the repairs, which cost huge amounts and causes delays for people when the road and the canal have to be closed.
“Frankly, if motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care then they would stop this vandalism of our heritage.
“It really isn’t rocket science – if you see a hump-back bridge then slow down.
“This is particularly important for drivers of heavy goods vehicles and farm tractors with trailers where even a slight nudge can do significant damage.
“You will save yourself and us a great deal of expense and aggravation.”
Visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk for more information about the Canal and River Trust.