There have been concerns raised about the future stability of the towpath and embankment of the canal near Crime Lane Aqueduct following several small collapses in the towpath.
The collapses have been caused by underground erosion from water leaking from the canal. The most recent collapse was on Sunday 4th December when an 18" diameter hole appeared in the towpath (see photograph). This type of collapse sometimes indicates that a much larger failure may happen. The hole was filled with hard core as a temporary measure, to keep the path safe for towpath users.
A hole appeared in the towpath in December.
The society's concerns have been made known to Oldham Council, who have consulted British Waterways and a canal contractor, who inspected the site in January.
We understand the Council is considering a number of options, including filling in the canal at this point and across the aqueduct as an immediate solution. The Society is against this idea, which would be a setback to our aim of seeing the eventual restoration of the waterway, and would probably cost more than stopping the leaks by excavating the towpath and placing puddle clay in the areas leaking, such as might be done on a working canal.
The Oldham Advertiser ran the story as a front page exclusive, approaching the story from the angle that the damage may have be due to the presence of water voles. The BBC then spotted this and featured it as a news item on BBC Northwest Tonight, including library footage of water voles which unfortunately led to lots of people coming to the country park expecting to see the voles, which are shy creatures and not easily seen!
Please do not visit the location hoping to see the voles - you will be disappointed!
Crime Lane Aqueduct. Most of the leaks
are from the embankment to the left.