Lichfield & Hatherton Canals


20th July 2001



The news that the Hatherton Canal will be saved from blockage by a new motorway is a major breakthrough in the campaign to restore the waterway for public benefit. The announcement on 17th July that the Government is ordering the construction of a second tunnel under the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR) is warmly welcomed by The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT) as a victory for common sense and great news for the future of our waterways system. The Trust has campaigned long and hard to achieve this result which will protect the through route of the Hatherton Canal and allow its full restoration to continue.

The BNRR crosses the route of the Hatherton Canal at Churchbridge near Cannock in Staffordshire and the new tunnel for the canal will be provided as an enlargement of a culvert taking the Washbrook under the motorway. The culvert will now be built to navigable dimensions for boats and for future pedestrian use. This compliments a nearby culvert under a new roundabout where the A5 and A34 cross the motorway which will also be enlarged to canal dimensions under a recent agreement between LHCRT and the motorway builders CAMBBA.

Trust Vice-Chairman Phil Sharpe explained: "Since LHCRT was formed in 1988 we have been campaigning to prevent these blockages. At the Public Inquiry in 1995 we won the support of the Inspector but in 1997 the then Secretary of State ignored his recommendation to provide canal crossings. Since then we have attracted enormous support from all over the country and the tide of public opinion has gradually moved the Government towards its new recognition of the value of restored waterways. We have raised the money to build the first culvert and the Government's intervention now ensures that both these essential structures will be built. This is a victory for all those who have campaigned and made financial sacrifices to help our case, but is also a victory for common sense and for 'joined-up' thinking. We would particularly like to acknowledge the vital 'behind the scenes' support from British Waterways and The Waterways Trust, and the high-profile public campaigning of Chris Coburn and David Suchet."

Trust Finance Director Bob Williams said: "The launch of a public Appeal supported by our Vice-President, actor David Suchet has raised over 150,000 from over 800 individuals and organisations and has been instrumental in securing these canal crossings. The David Suchet Appeal continues to help us fund the aqueduct needed near Brownhills where the BNRR crosses the Lichfield Canal, the other part of our combined restoration project. For more information or to make a donation, write to LHCRT - David Suchet Appeal, 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich, Burntwood, Staffs. WS7 0JP."

David Suchet adds: "I am delighted that all our efforts have been recognised in this decision by the Government to support the restoration of the Hatherton Canal. I hope that the public will continue to give generously so that we can go on and likewise secure the aqueduct crossing for the Lichfield Canal and bring forward the day when both will be re-opened for everyone to enjoy."


For further information please contact:

Philip Sharpe, Vice-Chairman LHCRT

34 Old Eaton Road, Rugeley, Staffs. WS15 2EZ

Tel. 01889-583330

Bob Williams, Finance Director LHCRT

29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich, Burntwood, Staffs. WS7 0JP

Tel. 01543-671427

Fax 01543-677687

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