The Bridgeguard Scheme

Unearthing History: NarrowBoat, Spring 2022

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy provides the story of the structural supports built to strengthen canal bridges

There are times when a chance comment makes you take a step back and see what is in front of your nose from a completely fresh perspective. Hugh Potter, NB’s former editor, made such a comment when he shared a photo of an old working boat which he and a group of friends were taking around the Birmingham Canal Navigations in 1973. It was stuck fast beneath Well Lane Bridge on the partially abandoned Bentley Canal, its progress halted by a newly installed bit of metalwork. My comment to Hugh was, “So, who stuck a pipe in a place like that?” He replied, “Ah, that’s not a pipe, it’s a structural support girder, installed as part of Bridgeguard. There is probably a story in there.” And so Bridgeguard entered my consciousness and periodically I would do a bit of research, usually when other similar photos appeared on social media sites. However, an inspection of all my usual canal reference books drew a blank and so the idea sat, half formed, for ye…

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