Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 11:10 UK

Tunnel ready in 11m canal revamp


The tunnel includes a new towpath and will be part of a 21-mile (34km) canal loop

A 75m (246ft) long tunnel has been created by workers as part of an £11.5m scheme to restore Droitwich Canals.

The Droitwich Canals Restoration Partnership has taken several months to excavate the tunnel under the A449 in north Worcester.

British Waterways said the tunnel reconnected the historic Droitwich Barge Canal to the network and was a "key milestone" in the project.

The £11.5m scheme is the final step in completing a 21-mile (34km) canal loop.

Finishing work at the tunnel site in Hawford will continue for several weeks affecting traffic, British Waterways said.

The tunnel, which passes beneath the A449, includes a new canal towpath.

Prisoners of war

British Waterways project manager Jason Leach said: "The creation of this tunnel is a significant milestone for the restoration project and its completion has been long awaited by many.

"The newly constructed tunnel and towpath will soon be open for the public to explore and a major link in the 21-mile canal and river loop."

Bridge after work in 1942. Photo courtesy of Worcestershire History Centre
The bridge was strengthened in the 1940s to allow tanks to cross

The Droitwich Barge Canal helped bring prosperity to the area through the transportation of salt during the 18th and 19th centuries.

British Waterways said the original canal bridge was filled in during World War II by Italian prisoners of war who were tasked with strengthening the bridge for troops and tanks going to the south coast for the D-Day Landings.

The Droitwich Canals scheme includes restoring 12 locks and building four new locks and 1km of new canal.

Worcestershire County Council said it will have "massive benefits" for the area both commercially and recreationally.

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