KENNET & AVON
THE UNUSUAL SIGHT of a swingbridge opening vertically upwards (pictured) was a very welcome sight for boaters who had been trapped the wrong side off an emergency bridge closure on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Newbury. West Mills Swingbridge had been due to close from January to March for replacement of part of its opening mechanism, but in the event, the component failed in late September.
Suggestions locally that the canal would remain shut for two months were denied by a CRT spokeswoman, who told CB this was a misunderstanding based on the length of the originally scheduled winter stoppage.
The exact reopening date couldn’t be announced, but the closure was likely to last into early November, by which time a scheduled stoppage would have begun at Southcote Lock between there and Reading – and, in the meantime, a queue of boats had built up.
The Trust, therefore, arranged for a crane to lift the bridge off its bearings for several hours in early October so that waiting boats could pass and the defective part could be taken away for replacement.