Friday, 31 July 2015

The View From Over Here (3)

The View From Over Here. Also known as Mick's Musings - Is an occasional series of observations of life along the canal and river network. It gives this writers perceptions of what he sees, hears and learns from other people and various other sources. 

It's over a year ago that I reported what I considered to be a dangerous building on the BCN Birmingham Level Main Line.  I had a return call from the trust. Who said they were aware of the buildings condition and were trying to establish who were the owners.

The empty buildings tower over the towpath and are in a poor state of repair. There were at the time window arches that had already collapsed and other arches that were starting to collapse. These had the potential to kill anyone on or near the towpath below, be it man, woman or child, boater, dog walker or cyclist.

This part of the Inland waterways is out of our usual boating area, so its been some time since I last passed through. So as you can imagine, I took some interest in how well this dangerous issue would have been made safe. 

Well I was to be disappointed with the trust once again.  Now I am beginning to wonder if I am wasting my time and if other people are wasting their time, by reporting safety issues to the trust. The situation has not improved in the intervening time in any way whatsoever. As the photographs will attest.

There is a gradual progression of deterioration. It starts with birds passing in and out of the buildings through holes above the window frames. Because the window is covered in mesh. we watched the pigeons making their way in and out.

The birds loosen up the brick work and the smaller bits of masonry are displaced to eventually fall over the edge onto the towpath.

The next point is when one or more of the archway bricks then start to come loose and eventually fall.  This then destabilises the strength of the arch to support the remaining brickwork above.

Now we have a fast developing situation. Creating the conditions where the complete archway is subject to imminent collapse. No if but when it does collapse it will fall onto the towpath. 

Some of the archways have reached the last stage, The brick work has fallen. You can see here the remains of the window frame are bent and distorted under the sheer weight of the brick work.

Now all it needs is some unsuspecting family walking along the towpath to be showered in debris. In this case made up of eight or more house bricks. falling from a height of 30 feet or more.

This is a towpath disaster in waiting and possibly a fatal one as well. Which will bring with it more unwelcome publicity for the trust. The usual platitudes of 2000 miles of canals are hard to monitor will be trotted out. When the reality is the trust was warned over a year ago of this situation. The danger has not been removed. the towpath is not fenced off. Its in the same condition today as it was back then. 

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