The David Frith Memorial Bridge

Below are the emails circulated by Project Manager, Graham Aldred on 19th March and 25th and 26th Jan together with his Updates 11, 12 and 13 which follow.

Friends of the Memorial Footbridge

Update No 11 has the sequence of emails and other documents that have passed between David Baldaccino (DB) of the CRT and me since early November until mid Jan.

It has been a very exhausting and frustrating three months which continued right through and spoilt Christmas. You will see that I threatened to abandon the project by mid November but decided to make one last effort. Particularly to complain to Richard Parry. CEO of CRT, that sequence of letters and emails will be in Update No 12, not as long as 11 you might be relieved to know.

The issue is that the CRT wont make decisions and continually invent obstructions to the project. It is not as though they are working on the issues, they just do nothing and have delayed the Project by 12 continuous months in 2017 plus 6 months in 2016. As you may guess I am very fed up having to provide continued effort
and hard work with no results, trying to correspond with an ill structured unprofessional organisation, this has drained my enthusiasm to the very last drip.... and that is exactly the CRT's hope, that I will give up so that they dont have to fulfil their remit to provide public benefit. Well not quite yet.... still one drip left.

Otherwise if the CRT had behaved professionally the bridge could have been installed this Summer/Autumn, for this the CRT should be indicted.

There might be a fragile glimmer in a recent email (not in Update 11) from DB that might lead to something but it might just be a decoy.

For any of you who want to understand what has happened and why the project might easily be abandoned, it's worth reading this update... perhaps more than took me far, far, longer to compose those pages and letters than it will take to read it many times over.  If you are moved to write complaining/supporting letters, rite to Richard Parry CEO of CRT. There is no point in writing to David Baldaccino, the susceptability to embarassment in public is at the top. My MP David Rutley is an enthusiast for the bridge and has also written to Mr Parry and seen all my letters.

Best wishes


Friends of the Memorial Footbridge

This is the correspondence with Richard Parry (RP) the CEO of the CRT. Tis was in parallel with emails with BD that were in Update No 11.  He has been head of CRT since 2012 when it replaced British Waterways.

His replies are just as unprofessional and prevaricating as the ones from DB, in fact every sentence in his letter has to e challenged, but I just can't be bothered to show him how incorrect he is, it's water off a duck's back.  He overrides the legal constitution even though he knew how a Registerd Charity must function when he took the job and made the statement I quoted in update No 9 on the CRT Constitution... which we can now see was window dressing.

It is appalling that sucha dysfunctional outfit (con't call it an organisation) can get away without an audit of its processes and structure. (Actually that is what the Charity Commission should do periodically but the CC is very understaffed and assumes (wrongly) that big charities are too big to be failing)
However, in one of my former lives I was an auditor and know a lot about the CC so I could be persuaded to give them a fair but searching audit...for the price of a fine footbridge.

Note that RP hides behind the notion that he can't make ven the tiniest decision without approval by his Board of Technically illiterate Trustees. This reminds me of the same kind of cop out excuse used by managers in the mid 70s to avoid making decisions in industry.  "No...! we can't do that, the unions wouldn't like it..."   But the unions had not been asked!.  Unions or Boards of Trustees provide the same fabricated excuse that you can't challenge.

I think he may have had a word with BD and, given that, my plan is to extract a signed list of agreements from DB. asically the position is: we can't spend any community money until the CRT have been nailed to specific formal agreements. This is because the Trustcannot be trusted.  That's the problem, as you might have noticed from No 11,  as soon as I solve one problem, the CRT invents a new obstruction.

We shall see, their third and final deadline in end Feb.

Best Wishes



From Jan 2017 I tried to have a meeting and/or decisions from the CRT so I that could apply for planning
permission to PDNP (a year ago). We eventually met in June, I was asked to submit the AIP
but CRT had nobody to process it. …….months dragged on. This is my email to David Baldaccino, (DB)
Waterways Manager, CRT Pennine Region,
30 Oct 2017 …
The Ultimatum.
Good Morning David,
We are definitely in the last minutes of injury time on this project as far as my involvement
is concerned. Over the last months I have tried many times to make contact by phone and
or by email re the technical approval of the footbridge design and any conditions CRT might
require for third party ownership. These are issues which we first discussed at our meetings
on August 4, 2016 and repeated on June 7, 2017.
The CRT have had the formal and extensive portfolio of technical and maintenance
documentation including an analysis of potential third party ownership for several months.
There has been no response from the CRT. In fact we have waited in vain over 14 months
for responses and decisions on issues that were first raised in Aug 2016, decisions which
require no financial commitments from the CRT or any other responsibilities. It appears
therefore that the CRT is not structured to assign any priority or urgency to these
community ventures or to make minor well informed decisions.
The project is entirely feasible, it has widespread support from the bridge supplier SHS,
from local landowners, the Village and Borough Councils, local communities and various
footpath societies. The constitution of the CRT requires active support for the development
of recreational use of the assets in its custody. Nevertheless all the delays to the project
have been caused by the failure of the CRT to respond over the duration of the project. In
2017 alone we have already been delayed 9 months due to the CRT, yes nine lost months
and, in addition, this has caused the project costs to increase considerably.
In the past two years I have dedicated many hundreds of hours to this worthy project. The
work is unpaid, the only motivation and reward is to succeed in overcoming the challenges
and to eventually see the fine bridge installed to provide a safe and predictable valley
footpath route . But my patience is exhausted now and I am no longer motivated to
manage this project with energy and enthusiasm. With regret I have decided that unless the
CRT can give an unequivocal unambiguous response without any further prevarication on all
the outstanding issues by 11 Nov 2017 then I will abandon the project.
David Frith died on 11 November 2015.
With my regards,
There was no reply…., the deadline passed (as expected). I then wrote to Richard Parry (RP) CEO of the
whole CRT on 26 November.
This correspondence with RP will be in Update No 12 to make it easier to follow two threads of
emails and letters running in parallel between different people.
I am sure that my letter to RP caused a big discussion with DB ! This led to DB trying to contact
my mobile phone, (which he knows I don’t use ), whereas emails and landline are the normal
means of contact. Despite the fact I had emailed him with a serious decision to abandon the
project due to the continued CRT intransigence.
When we eventually spoke it was from his mobile phone with failing signal in a traffic jam on the
M62 one Friday evening. A ‘take it or leave it ‘meeting on Ownership alone (nothing else) was
offered but I insisted on a full response to the whole AIP package and other outstanding issues. I
also said that the Project deserved much more respect than to be discussed by mobile in such
This is my email to DB on 13 December.
Dear David,
The meeting is should be postponed until the CRT’s position on the Project has been
defined. After your phone call on 12 December I realised that the CRT has nothing positive
to offer currently so there is really no point in meeting yet. On the 21st Nov you said you had
looked at a new CRT document on Ownership and had not understood it. Yesterday, 3
weeks later you said the same thing. Therefore there is clearly no point in having a meeting
with you about ownership.
In addition the CRT owe the Project formal responses for the record. As you know there are
many interested Parties and Supporters, Agencies, Organisations and Societies who have
helpfully and promptly supported the Project as it developed and they need to be kept
After two years the proposal for a Memorial Footbridge at the Toddbrook weir demands a
formal reply from the CRT and some positive agreements before there can be another
It is worth noting that :-
1) In over 18 months CRT has been unable to find any fault with the Footbridge Design or
with the credentials and methods of the manufacturer SHS
2) The Project has met the requirement for Maintenance based on the precedent
acceptable to and suggested by the CRT.
3) Having declined ownership then the CRT has failed to define conditions it would expect of
a third party owner, despite repeated requests.
Last July CRT requested that we should submit an AIP, together with an extensive portfolio
of supporting documentation. We are entitled to a formal response to this AIP for our
Project and Community records particularly on these main topics :-
Technical Design and SHS Credentials
Maintenance Proposals,
Ownership a) by the CRT and b) by a Third Party.
Below is the Email 17 Dec from DB, it projects continual delays even though the CRT has known
about our proposal for nearly 2 years “ there would need to be a compelling case “…..”not
enough information”…it just a confusion of ‘management speak’ and fundamentally the failure
of the CRT to recognise the attributes of Ekki and SHS….
Hi Graham
Thanks for your email. I am sorry that you don’t feel that a meeting would be beneficial.
You should have received a letter from our Chief Executive, Richard Parry, by now in
response to your email to him from a couple of weeks ago. That talks in more detail about
the process that we will have to go through to reach the point where the Trust would be able
to take ownership of the bridge. In very high level though, it is our Board of Trustees who
would make that decision based on a weighing of the ongoing financial liabilities and risk to
the Trust against the wider community/ societal benefits that might exist and that deliver
against our charitable objectives. This was process was only clarified for us this
Autumn. There will need to be a compelling case.
At the moment I do not feel that we have sufficient information to make that case,
especially on the wider benefits that might exist or be deliverable from the project. There is
plenty of support locally, but that is not the same.
I was concerned too that you felt that we hadn’t clarified what would be needed for a third
party ownership of the bridge. We’d want to make sure that maintenance was funded,
provision for ultimate removal, and that there was some mechanism for dealing with issues
of public liability. I had felt that we had discussed this but am happy to again.
I am still happy to come along on Tuesday, or if you want to think about this and get
together in the new year that would be fine too. I know that it has taken much longer to get
to this point than you would have wanted or I would have expected – if nothing else, given
the effort that you have put into this so far I wouldn’t want to see the project fail without
really making sure that all options had been explored.
I’ll assume that Tuesday is off and wait to hear from you, I’ll keep the time free though.
All the best,
David Baldacchino
My reply on 13 Jan. This is my rebuttal to all the obstacles that the CRT has suddenly placed in
front of the Project. This email was also copied to Richard Parry CEO of CRT and David Rutley, MP
for Cheshire East at his request.
Dear David,
I have did receive a letter from Richard Parry delayed by Christmas post, which could have
so easily been attached to an email.
Actually I never said a meeting would not be beneficial but that it was necessary to
postpone it for the reasons that I have listed in my email to you (13 Dec.) and it would be
premature in any case because I needed to know how Richard had responded.
I have asked you for a formal written response to the Project AIP. We are entitled to this
because, at the request of the CRT, SHS and I put in the effort to produce the extensive AIP
document which defines our simple footbridge. This therefore requires a professional
response at the same detail so when we eventually meet we will be formally aware of the
full extent of the CRT issues.
Your last email shows we need to have base line to work from. We need to find out how
many features of the project the CRT actually approves, finds acceptable or even applauds
(!) because after two years the CRT has suddenly regressed to question the fundamental
case for a footbridge, rather than just its ownership and maintenance.
The costs and fears you raise appear as obstructions to our Project are fundamental
because the CRT is unable to acknowledge the benefits of a factory made Ekki hardwood
footbridge even though you have been aware of my intention to use Ekki/SHS for 17
months when I gave you all the SHS Company brochures August 4 2016.
It appears that the CRT has never examined any of the structures supplied and erected in
the last 33 years by SHS all over the UK , nor looked at the credentials of SHS, nor studied
the Company Brochure, nor talked to SHS managers and engineers, and especially, never
requested an estimate for a new or replacement CRT footbridge. Here I am actually trying
to give the CRT a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud free of charge but you are unhappy because it’s
not a Ford Anglia or a Reliant Robin.
This bridge does not require maintenance unlike all softwood/ CRT structures. It is
gratuitous, it is funded by the community. it is not mandated in law. It is not part of a PROW
therefore it does not have to be replaced at end of life.
It does not have to be removed at end of a very long life just as the many large trees will
never get removed that have already and will fall across the stream at the weir . The bridge
in any condition cannot impede the flow.
It can legally be absolved from any public liability consideration by placing a ‘Use at own
Risk’ notice.( Ref. Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and 1984). The proposed bridge is outside
the experience of the CRT, it will not require any funding or be a source of liability.
All these issues are expanded and explored in the attached document: ‘Footbridge Post
Installation Costs’
The only way forward is for the CR to understand and accept the attributes and merits of a
modern maintenance free Ekki/SHS footbridge. The contradiction is that CRT is treating the
proposed footbridge as a Softwood/ CRT bridge with all the inherent material and design
faults that generate maintenance costs and risks.
Assuming that you do not believe the attributes of Ekki/SHS, please will you define how
much money that the CRT will ask the Project to deposit to cover the future costs that you
imagine up to 2070..
A meeting will be beneficial when you have provided :-
1) Written response to the AIP
2) Defined the CRT post installation support budget for the next 60 –70 years for our
community footbridge.
3) Investigated the qualities and attributes of Ekki/SHS footbridges, talked to Owners &
SHS Managers & Engineers.
This will define the future of the Project, the demise of which will be totally the
responsibility of the CRT.
I wonder David, whether you are privately beginning to agree with the Project that the CRT
has really messed up, lost all sense of proportion, judgement and common sense ? We are
just trying to install a very simple brand new much needed footbridge of the most excellent
quality, free of charge, across a small river, for the general use of the entire community.
Should it really be this difficult ? Could it be that these costs and risks are really just
fabrications to avoid a decision?
Footbridge Post Installation Costs
Letter of Support from the PNFS (Nov 2016)
(regarding the compelling case for the footbridge.)
With my regards,
This document below was attached to the email (above ) that I sent to DB on the 13 Jan. It shows
that every sentence in DB’s email has to be questioned and that the CRT has now regressed to
even question the case for the footbridge which they had accepted in Aug 2016 until now….and
it plays the ‘Board of Trustees’ card…..classic’ management speak’ from the 1970s
Footbridge Post Installation Notes. & Response to DB’s Email of 17Dec.
Considering your email. You wrote :- In blue my reply in red
You should have received a letter from our Chief Executive, Richard Parry, by now in response to your
email to him from a couple of weeks ago.
Well it came with my Christmas Cards, but did not address any issue I had raised with him.
The letter talks in more detail about the process that we will have to go through to reach the point where
the Trust would be able to take ownership of the bridge.
Actually he did not describe” a process to reach a point” He does not recognise the single issue that
prevents our project from going forward.
In very high level though, it is our Board of Trustees who would make that decision based on a weighing
of the ongoing financial liabilities
The single issue is the attributes of Ekki /SHS. It is staggering the CRT Trustees have no technical
qualifications, there is not one Engineer or Scientist amongst the 10 of them who could challenge what
they are told to support…and the CRT don’t have an Engineering Director who should brief them.
….and risk to the Trust against the wider community/ societal benefits that might exist and that deliver
against our charitable objectives.
MIGHT exist ??. The costs and risks are zero. The benefits are obvious and fully supported by local
organisations and by several of the CRT Objects in the Constitution as I have shown in Update No 9.
There will need to be a compelling case. At the moment I do not feel that we have sufficient information
to make that case, especially on the wider benefits that might exist or be deliverable from the project.
CR is in definitely in regression after two years, Please list the additional information you will regard as
sufficient. I suggest you check all the Letters of Support.
There is plenty of support locally, but that is not the same.
Not the Same !! How can it possibly matter where the support/usage comes from ? . We have support
from Sheffield, Preston, N Wales., etc. Please advise me where “Local “ ends and “Far Away” starts. I
know Toddbrook Weir-Waders from Portsmouth, Oxford, and Exeter…..
I was concerned too that you felt that we hadn’t clarified what would be needed for a third party
ownership of the bridge.
You never have clarified it, I simply want the CR estimate for the full life post installation costs until 2070,
that is what has been required for the last 12 months !
We’d want to make sure that maintenance was funded, .
There is NO post installation maintenance cost. CRT ought to visit any of the many owners of Ekki/SHS
bridges installed over the last 33 years, talk to SHS Engineers, meet the Directors as I have, or re-read the
SHS brochures that I gave you in August 4 2016.
Provision for ultimate removal,
The bridge will be no more a problem by 2070 anymore than the many fallen trees nearby. (See below)
and that there was some mechanism for dealing with issues of public liability.
Liability can be avoided on all permissive bridges. see below in Liability to Users.
I had felt that we had discussed this but am happy to again.
No, I have been waiting more than 12 months for CR to define and justify the overall post installation
costs. My figure is zero, the CR has no experience of Ekki /SHS bridges, I would like to see your estimate.
I know that it has taken much longer to get to this point than you would have wanted or I would have
expected –
The delay is INEXCUSABLE and has not been explained, it is totally the responsibility of the CRT, the CRT
should pay the cost increase due to this delay of 12 months.
if nothing else, given the effort that you have put into this so far I wouldn’t want to see the project fail
without really making sure that all options had been explored.
The Project will definitely fail unless the CRT urgently enters the 21stC and recognises all the maintenance
free attributes and merits of Ekki/SHS footbridges. That is the only option.
(This document continues below.)
The CRT has regressed on this project. For two years the case for the footbridge was
apparently accepted by the CRT but now suddenly it is not.
The case for the Footbridge.
1 There is a footpath that is currently a very pleasant waterside cull de sac that
could be connected via a bridge into the whole network of footpaths in the Peak
District, in East Cheshire and beyond.
2 The bridge will provide a safe, traffic free predictable route between the two
counties. The pleasant waterside footpath would therefore be integrated into the
National Network of footpaths that are available to and used by the entire national
3 Well worn footpaths on the south side testify to the extent that the weir is currently
crossed by walkers who take risks and then have to cross a bog.
4 Children are frequently piggybacked across the weir, this is a serious risk.
5 Generations of now old people have used the route in the past from their childhood
over 60 or more years ago.
6 The bridge will enable the development of a ‘round the reservoir’ footpath in the
future, which would provide social and health benefits for many because a circuit is
always attractive.
7 The bridge would reinstate a safe, predictable traffic free route through the valley
that was lost 180 years ago when the valley was flooded.
8 The bridge would support the CRT’s clear constitutional remit to provide and develop
new Public Benefit facilities.
9 The bridge will enlighten the CRT as to the cost benefits of using Ekki hardwood
structures made by SHS and could save considerable maintenance and replacement
costs in the next 70 years.
The Compelling Case.
As regards the compelling case, you may remember receiving a copy of the strongly
supporting letter (attached) from the Chairman of the Peak & Northern Footpath Society
(PNFS), of which the operational area spreads over the entire NW of England. The PNFS is
the most widely respected representative of the walking community in the NW (even above
the Ramblers Association). By law all footpath closure issues and controversial matters in
the NW must be notified to the PNFS. PNFS has been actively promoting and defending
footpaths in the whole NW for the last 125 years. If the CRT has any doubts about the full
recreational, health and social value of the valley route via a new footbridge the onus is on
the CRT not the Project to produce the evidence to substantiate those doubts, unless, on
reconsideration, the CRT will choose to trust the experts and the community and accept
that there is and always has been a compelling case for this footbridge.
The Core of the CRT’s Problem:- No experience of Ekki Footbridges
But the fundamental problem is that the CRT does not have the experience and
confidence in the attributes of Ekki hardwood and of high quality factory based bridge
manufacture which provides bridges that do not require material and structural
maintenance. Ekki is one of the most robust of hardwoods, it cannot be impregnated so it
cannot be painted, it’s so heavy that it won’t float. It is this lack of technical understanding
and experience of the attributes of EKKI that causes the CRT to inflate risks and costs of
ownership and maintenance. These concerns are based on a narrow experience of inferior
softwood designs that are not factory made and which need to be primed and painted every
4 years.
This timid mindset is evident in the identical replacement of the flawed design of the
footbridge which finally fell apart into the stream at Toddbrook Reservoir in August 2017.
Exactly the same design errors and construction flaws that caused the first bridge to fail
have been repeated in the replacement. I can list all these errors although they are obvious.
If I was on the Board of CRT trustees this is what I would be asking the CEO. I would want
to know how the CRT was planning to procure cost effective solutions in the 21st.C to offset
the escalating maintenance and replacement costs caused by repeating the 18th.C
mistakes in infrastructure reconstruction. I would want to know why the CRT has never
talked to SHS or requested an estimate.
The case for CRT ownership of the Toddbrook Memorial Footbridge is exceptionally strong in
its own right. Not only does it come as a gift to the CRT but it would enlighten the CRT as to
the expertise of Sarum Hardwood Structures (SHS) and the qualities of Ekki structures
which require no material and structural maintenance. They never need to be painted and
they do not rot away unlike all other CRT structures which are un-maintainable because
they always rot inside the joints which cannot ever get painted.
I contend that ‘Ownership’ and ‘Maintenance’ cannot therefore be issues. The selection of
Ekki hardwood and SHS are my fundamental design choices because I want to erect an
attractive long lasting bridge and I want to avoid any costs for Structural and Material
Maintenance and therefore eliminate the costs of Ownership and Maintenance. The CRT
ought to carry out a life cost analysis to compare Ekki/SHS footbridges with softwood /CRT
Other eventualities used to oppose our Community Footbridge.
Future Replacement after 2067
The footbridge will have a life of 50 years or more. It is not mandated in law, it is
‘gratuitous’. Therefore it does not have to be replaced. The community chose to erect it, not
the CRT. It does not exist now. It is not on a PROW. Any owner would not be required by
custom or law to replace it ever in the future. I know the CRT hunts around to find every
excuse to oppose this community bridge but concern about a bridge for which there is no
liability for replacement in 50 or 60 years is derisory.
Future Removal of the bridge.
In the last year two large trees have fallen across the stream close to the weir and the CRT
would not even known about them had I not mentioned it. In fact one of the trees is being
used as a natural bridge by intrepid walkers which emphasises the compelling case for a
safe footbridge. By these standards of waterway management removal of the bridge 60-70
years from now cannot possibly be an issue. The stream cannot be blocked or stopped, it
runs in a narrow valley it, it has nowhere else to go as the Flood Risk Officer agreed with me
on his inspection. So here is another disingenuous excuse to oppose the footbridge on the
grounds that it would finally need to be removed even although for the next sixty years all
the trees (owned by CRT!) that fall across the stream will be ignored and be left where they
Liability to Users.
Under the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984 any owner of a permissive bridge or path
owes a duty of care to a user. But the owner is not liable to the public for any accidents or
injuries that might occur in normal use of the footbridge provided the structure is
maintained to the original approved standard. In this respect the public liability for the new
bridge would not differ from that for any of the other bridges in the CRT estate.
However any owner can exempt himself from this liability under the 1957/84 Act by placing
a notice to that effect warning users of the exemption. It surprises me that, given the poor
state and quantity of CRT bridges, I have never seen any “Use at own Risk” notices which
means that the CRT is accepting liability on all its structures quite unnecessarily whilst
challenging our exempt bridge. Putting such a notice on the proposed footbridge would
therefore avoid speculative future costs in relation to liability claims re the new bridge.
The CRT has speculated on post installation without due consideration for the material
design, the supplier and location of the new bridge. The CRT has not made any assessment
of Ekki/SHS bridges and owners experience. I have shown that there is ZERO cost and no
risk with an Ekki/SHS footbridge that is why I chose Ekki/SHS. If the CRT does not agree I
need the CRT estimate for the total sum that the Project must deposit to cover the costs of
all the eventualities that the CRT imagines for the next 60 years. Acceptance of the
Ekki/SHS attributes and qualities will define the future of the Project, the demise of which
will be totally the responsibility of the CRT.
Graham Aldred,
Project Manager 12 January 2018
To any surviving readers! Please read the attached important Letter of Support from Peak &
Northern Footpath Society written in Nov 2016, It was originally in pdf format but has lost the
formal Society Logo in the transfer to word format! Also the line spacing is a little bit wonky!
Proposed Footbridge at Western End of Toddbrook Reservoir
The Peak and Northern Footpaths Society is a registered charity run by volunteers and
founded in 1894. It exists to protect and improve the network of public rights of way, open
spaces and access land in the north Midlands and the north of England. It has over
eighty footpath inspectors who walk paths in their local area, follow up reports of
obstructions and work with highway authorities on proposals for path diversions. The
Society is, therefore, delighted to learn of the proposal for a footbridge and footpath
joining the existing path round the northern shore of Toddbrook Reservoir with the
footpaths in Kettleshulme.
We support this proposal as it will greatly enhance the footpath network in the area,
which is already popular with walkers. Indeed, not only will it allow direct off-road access
from Whaley Bridge to Kettleshulme and beyond to the Todd Brook valley, but it will
also open up the possibility of circular routes round the reservoir. The proposal will help
to meet the Government’s objectives of increasing levels of physical fitness and reducing
obesity by encouraging people out into the countryside.
We understand that the footbridge will be in memory of David Frith who was a member
of the Society for many years and one of our footpath inspectors. David was a keen
supporter of the wider walking fraternity in the High Peak and was always ready to share
his vast knowledge of paths, public access and local history with others.
Whilst we recognise that there are challenges ahead on issues such as ownership,
maintenance and funding, we confirm our enthusiastic support for this project. The
footbridge will be both a fitting memorial to David Frith and a valuable addition to the
footpath network.
Yours faithfully,
David Hurrell


Canal & River Trust 4, Sheardhall Avenue,
Head Office Disley,
First Floor North, Cheshire.
Station House SK12 2DE
500 Elder Gate
Milton Keynes
26 November 2017
Dear Mr Parry,
I would like to bring an important matter to your attention regarding the proposal for a
walker’s footbridge in the Pennine Region. The footbridge will be located at the weir at the
head of the Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire. This is a community led initiative
to provide a safe and predictable footpath route through the valley by ensuring that the weir
can be crossed at any time using the proposed footbridge. The footbridge will then connect a
vast network of public rights of way to the East and West of the weir and thus will provide
considerable Public Benefit for the use and enjoyment of the general public.
This Footbridge Project has widespread support from the local Communities, the Town and
Parish Councils, the Cheshire East Borough Council, from the two local MPs, the renowned
Peak and Northern Footpath Society, Local Ramblers Association, local Landowners. It has
been publicised in the local press and periodicals, there is no contention. It will incidentally be
a fitting Memorial to a much respected local man, David Frith who died suddenly exactly 2
years ago. However the realisation of the bridge hangs in the balance due to the intransigence
of the CRT, after virtually 2 years of my dedicated hard work and positive solutions to many
other problems in non CRT areas.
When the Toddbrook valley was flooded in 1835 the natural footpath and drovers way which
followed the stream through the valley was lost. Nevertheless for the last 180 years
determined efforts have been made to navigate the resultant bog, to cross the stream at the
weir and get through the valley using alternative paths that have evolved in time. The problem
is that the water flow and depth are not predictable, so you can’t know if it is safe until you
reach the weir, especially if you have small children with you. What is obviously required is a
small footbridge. This footbridge would not only secure the East-West valley route but it would
also enable a long held local ambition for a ‘round the reservoir’ circuit to be developed in due
The proposed footbridge will be founded on the original masonry abutments at the weir, a
simple single span of about 8m. It will be an established design manufactured and installed
by Sarum Hardwood Structures (SHS), a Company of the highest credentials who have
supplied and installed footbridges of all sizes (including footbridges across motorways)
throughout the UK for more than 33 years. SHS exceeds all the certification and standards
that the CRT could possibly demand. The bridge will be manufactured using certified Ekki
hardwood which is used in very harsh industrial environments. It is one of the hardest and
most durable of woods which will require no material maintenance in a 50 year life. Ekki has
been specified for this reason and is a key design choice for this project.
The proposal was first circulated in Dec 2015 and has required negotiations with other
Authorities and Landowners as well as the CRT. It is necessary to obtain approval in principle,
goodwill and support for the proposal from all those involved before a formal application for
planning permission to the Peak District National Park (PDNP) can be made to erect the
The issue which I want to bring to your attention is the continual delays in responses, to meet,
to communicate, to be proactive and particularly the failure to make decisions on the part of
the CRT. Funding by CRT is not the issue. In the last 22 months the CRT has cost the project
15 months delay, of which 10 months have occurred this year ( since Jan 2017), ten lost
months during which the Project has been held up by the intransigence of the CRT whilst our
costs have increased in direct consequence.
The footbridge design and the credentials of the chosen manufacturer (SHS) were described
to the CRT at our first meeting on Aug 4 2016 which had taken 7 months to arrange.
Additional technical details were obtained after a site visit by SHS in Dec 2016. This enabled
a fully supported engineering description to be developed and costed by January 2017 when
another request for a meeting with CRT was made.
It took six months to get the second meeting in early July 2017 which found no issues with
the design. In order to formalise what we had been discussing for last 14 months I was asked
to submit a package which included an Approval in Principle (AIP), SHS Company Credentials,
an Analysis on bridge Ownership and legal Liability, and a commitment to third party
arrangements for annual care of the footway of an otherwise maintenance free structure.
This is a comprehensive and professional package which simply formalises the project with
no surprises for the CRT.
There have been no reactive responses to this package of information, no indications of
progress or evidence that anybody was doing anything. By 30 Oct 2017, after delays and
prevarication by the CRT actually extending over 22 months, I had finally run out of patience,
enthusiasm and energy so I reluctantly issued an ultimatum formally requesting decisions
(Yes or No) with a deadline of 11 November otherwise I would abandon my interest in and
pursuit of this community project and this would therefore mean the end of the project.
True to form, here has been no timely response to the email and to the deadline or even an
apology from the CRT to express regret at the demise a worthy project. This is an indictment
of the CRT and a telling measure of the lack of CRT interest and pro-active support for a
community led project that would provide Public Benefit.
Having dedicated considerable mental and physical effort to this project which is totally
supported by the community and its representatives, I feel that the CEO of the CRT should at
least be made aware of how it has been treated and managed. This might perhaps provide an
opportunity to consider how the Project and the reputation of the CRT can be salvaged. This
failure to decide and respond is a very poor advertisement for the CRT and the Community
feels more than’ let down’.
If the Toddbrook Memorial Footbridge Project does not continue it will be the responsibility of
the CRT. This is not a personal criticism of individuals who may not have the authority or
resources to make the decisions I seek but it certainly is an indictment of the Canal & River
Trust itself. An organisation which seems to be unaware in its operations ‘on the ground’ of
the wide remit of its Constitution and seems incapable of making simple and timely decisions
or apparently is not structured to do so.
The Constitution of the CRT.
I have examined the CRT Constitution in detail (see Proposed Memorial Footbridge Update
No 9) and find that it has a wide remit to include footpaths and recreational use of the whole
estate not only the water. The Constitution shows that we are quite justified in expecting
timely, pro-active and supportive responses by the CRT. We are entitled to expect that the
project is treated seriously and given appropriate priority. This has not happened. Here are
examples of failing to apply the Constitution.
This is a footbridge of the highest quality that the CRT has said it will not contribute to either
in funds or in kind. Although the bridge is materially and structurally maintenance free, the
CRT will not even accept it as a gift despite 3.1 and 3.1.2 of the Constitution which clearly
anticipate the transfer of appropriate property (like a footbridge) to the CRT. And having
refused ownership the CRT will not even define the conditions that the CRT would require of a
third party owner !
Although this issue here does not concern a request for funding, the CRT Constitution
(Para.3.5) indicates that the CRT is empowered to fund projects in order to meet the CRT’s
Objects for Public Benefit. The issue fundamentally concerns the chronic delays and
prevarication in reacting, deciding, communicating about a footbridge specification of highest
quality which, incidentally, would provide the CRT with clear evidence for the Charity
Commission of pro-active provision of Public Benefit in line with 2.1.2 and 2.1.3 expressed in
the major Objects of the CRT Constitution.
Charitable Objects.
In searching for CRT documents I found one called “Governance Handbook” (revised Oct 2017
virtually yesterday !). It begins with the Objects or Purposes exactly as given in the
Constitution. The appropriate quotation below is presented prominently. It is part of the
inaugural statement made by the current CEO, Mr Richard Parry in 2012 when the CRT was
established after the dissolution of British Waterways. He is very emphatic that the CRT is a
Charity which is constitutionally bound to provide ‘Public Benefit’ in all activities and
decisions. Note particularly the last sentence which I have underscored:-
“At the core of any charity are its charitable objects or purposes. They are the
whole reason for the existence of a charity and it is their effective pursuit and
promotion that is the focus of the system of governance. Accordingly anyone
involved in the governance of the Trust needs to be fully aware of the Trust’s
charitable objects and to seek to fully understand them. Any action or decision
made by or on behalf of the Trust, at whatever level, needs to pass the test of
whether it ultimately will contribute to or help bring about these charitable
There is no evidence that this statement has been applied to the consideration of the
Footbridge Proposal.
The End of the Memorial Footbridge Project ?
The demise of this project is fully the responsibility of the CRT. How might the CRT save the
Footbridge Project, regain local public trust, exonerate itself and prove that the excellent
statement above by the CEO is not just hollow window dressing ?
1) The CRT should promptly recognise the far reaching Public Benefit merits of this
Project and treat it proactively with response and priority as an important joint
initiative serving the community.
2) The CRT should promptly approve the technical specification as described in the AIP
and its suppliers (SHS) as described in their Company Documents.
3) The CRT should promptly recognise and accept that this footbridge will require no
material or structural Maintenance during its life due to the quality of its construction
and the Ekki hardwood.
4) The CRT should agree to accept Ownership of this ‘no maintenance’ footbridge and
include it in the CRT Estate un-endowed as a very low risk contribution by the CRT to
this Public Benefit Project
5) The CRT should promptly provide a formal document agreeing to the above in order to
expedite the Peak Park Planning process and perhaps reduce some of the 14 months
of overall delays caused by the CRT.
6) In addition, to enter into the spirit of this Project, the CRT should undertake to assist in
the transport of footbridge components from the main dam area along the reservoir
path to the weir as a contribution ‘in kind’. Vehicle (small tractor) access to the path
can only be made by the CRT, and that depends on the reservoir level. Consequently
the weir itself and all associated structures and valves are not readily and immediately
accessible by machines in any emergency.
Experience demands that with the CRT there should be a final deadline for the decision,
therefore ‘promptly’ means 15th. January 2018 or earlier, a generous 7 lapsed weeks. Copies
of the portfolio of documents (see 3 below) are available in three offices in the
Pennine/Leeds Region to provide all details. All the possible compromises have been made
by the Project, we have no money (yet), no resources (except me), …and definitely no more
patience !
The CRT must now finally make decisions, simply ‘Yes or No’,
Yours sincerely,
Graham Aldred,
Project Manager. 27 November 2017
Cc David Rutley, MP, Cheshire East .
Additional Documents (attached as files.)
1) Proposed Memorial Footbridge Update No 9: An examination of the Constitution of
the CRT.
2) Proposals on Footbridge Ownership and Liability.
3) Proposed Footbridge Document List
The document on the next page (5) on ‘Ownership’ was originally sent to DB in September. The issue is
that the CRT refuses to own the bridge (as a gift!) but want an alternate owner to have an unspecified
fund ready for any imaginary contingencies that might occur up to 2070 and beyond. I copied it to RP
to expose the problem.
The proposed Toddbrook footbridge regarding ownership.
It is rather disappointing that the CRT have currently declined to accept the footbridge as a
gift after it will have been fully approved and installed.
The attributes and status of the footbridge in favour of such ownership are as follows:-
1) A factory manufactured and tested design, meeting all appropriate standards of
quality, certification, safety and production processes. It will be installed by the
2) Made of Ekki hardwood, one of the hardest woods known which cannot accept
preservatives or paint, assembled using construction industry standard galvanised
steel components to ensure a structural and material maintenance free life.
3) Annual Inspection and Service operations of clearing the deck of mud and leaves
will be carried out by a Local Amenity Group, (Whaley4ward) with secondary back
up from the WBTC to ensure that this service continues in time.
4) The bridge will be mounted on a CRT asset (the weir abutments) and connected to
a CRT permissive path on both sides of the weir. It will be located entirely on CRT
5) It is therefore logical and necessary that the bridge should also have permissive
status regardless of who owns it. If the CRT were to own the bridge the Trust would
own the complete set of assets at the weir so the CRT could close it to the public at
will in order to carry out any necessary maintenance or reconstruction operations on
the weir itself.
6) Given that it is a permissive footbridge then any owner does not have the
responsibility to replace it at the end of its long life as would be the case if it were
located on a PROW. The bridge will be placed across the weir gratuitously as a
modern convenient amenity to provide safe and predictable pedestrian access to
the existing network of PROWS.
This amenity has not existed for the last 180 years although pedestrians have, with great
determination, continued to use the ancient and natural route through the Toddbrook valley
despite the existence of the weir and the reservoir. However this bridge is not mandated
by any law so, if after 50 years or more, it ceases to be functional then any owner will not
be responsible for its replacement. Pedestrian access might then revert once again to the
current ad hoc routes across the weir.
Any owner of a permissive bridge is not liable to the public for any accidents or injuries that
might occur in normal use of the footbridge provided the structure particularly the
handrails and decking are maintained to the original safe standard approved by the TAA.
Any owner of a permissive path or structure (bridge) owes this duty of care to a user under
the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. In this respect the public liability for the new
bridge would not differ than from that for any of the other bridges in the CRT estate. It
would seem that a new bridge of such exceptional quality and durability could hardly
increase the exposure of the CRT by any measurable extent. Nevertheless any owner can
even exempt himself from this liability under the 1957 Act by placing a notice to that effect
warning users of the exemption.
The standard reference work used here is Rights of Way (Fourth Edition)… A Guide to
Law & Practice. by Riddall & Trevelyan. This is a very well known reference book of high
repute used by all highway authorities, solicitors etc. whose work involves the wide subject
of Rights of Way.
It appears that the CRT is in an ambiguous position in the matters of Technical Approval,
Maintenance and Ownership. It seems to the Project that the CRT wants to impose all the
requirements that might be expected if the CRT was going to own the footbridge ultimately
when in fact the CRT will have no responsibility or liability for a bridge it chooses not to
own. In all logic there must be a difference in CRT concerns between the two cases of
potential ownership.
Given that the CRT have declined to own the bridge despite the previous analysis, we
need to know urgently what requirements the CRT would expect an Alternate Owner to
meet in order to avoid further delays to this project by the CRT.
As you know I cannot apply to PDNP until I have your answers, to date the CRT have
delayed the application by nine months so far this year.
May I look forward to an early reply.
My regards,
Graham 26 September 2017
River Trust
Canal &
Richard Parry
Chief Executive
Our Ref: RP/LOC101GA X
13th December 2017
Private and Confidential:
Mr Graham Aldred
4, Sheardhall Avenue
SK12 2DE
Dear Mr Aldred,
Subject: Proposed Footbridge at Toddbrook Reservoir
I am writing in response to your letter of 26th November 2017 relating to the above.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your persistence with this project which I can see is something that
you feel strongly about. From what I have, I can agree with you that it has taken too long to establish
a definite way forward for this proposal and I am sorry about that.
I have asked David Baldacchino, our local Waterway Manager who I know that you have been dealing
with, to seek to resolve the future plan at your next meeting. He will be contacting you about that very
Having spoken with David to understand the background to the proposal, I have to caution that - while
there is understandable enthusiasm for such a project - there are some considerable issues to
overcome around ownership and future maintenance, none of which are certain at this point. As you
have outlined, the construction of the bridge would appear to fit in with many of our charitable objects
but please be aware that this merely defines the work we are legally able to do, not work that we are
obliged to do. Given the large number of potential uses of our limited funds, we have to prioritise, and
be mindful of our obligation to ensure the long term financial security of the Trust. We cannot simply
agree to take on additional financial liabilities and risks without any source of funding, as I am sure
you will understand.
In September, this year we clarified our acquisition policy for infrastructure assets. While this is
intended for larger canal acquisitions or other significant assets, its principles are equally applicable
here. Any decision to accept a structure lies with our Board of Trustees and depends upon a
demonstration of strong overall benefit to the Trust, based on sound evidence. David has agreed to
review how such a case might be developed when he meets with you.
I have asked David to brief me following your meeting. I know that there is popular support for the
project and hope that it can be moved forward, but that can only happen if the general issues above
can be resolved.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Parry
Chief Executive
My reply 18 Jan 2018
Re: Proposed Footbridge at Toddbrook Reservoir.
Dear Mr Parry,
Re. your letter 17Dec, I note that you agree that the many months of outright prevarication and
delay reflect very badly on the CRT. This is a professionally led Project which is entitled to be
treated seriously and with respect. I am an Engineer with a long experience of varied successful
projects where time, cost, risk, credibility are all part of the equation, we are two years down the
track and CRT has now got to catch up and start behaving professionally. As for feeling strongly
about this Project, I am certainly not alone; you should accept that there are many supporting
individuals, communities, councilors, MPs and organizations as David Baldaccino knows well from
the letters of support I have passed to him over the last two years. He must have told you?
What concerns me is that your only knowledge of this project has been from some short
conversations with David who may not have had the time or the enthusiasm to brief you
properly... Therefore I would be prepared to visit you at Milton Keynes for an informal presentation
and discussion of the case for the Toddbrook Footbridge. This is not an ordinary footbridge; this is
what the CRT needs to understand. I am sure you would find this both informative and beneficial.
The Core of the CRT’s Problem:- Inexperience of Ekki hardwood structures.
From the outset two years ago, having examined many local footbridges, I was determined to
eliminate the lifetime support costs by making the right initial design decisions. Consequently I
chose Ekki hardwood and Sarum Hardwood Structures (SHS) because they have a proper
engineering process for bridge manufacture, and have been supplying and erecting bridges of all
sizes in the UK for the last 33 years. These bridges are manufactured and pre-assembled in the
factory using Ekki hardwood that will never rot and will never need to be painted unlike all the CRT
softwood structures.
The single issue that prevents any further progress with the memorial footbridge is the non
acceptance by the CRT of the attributes and qualities of Ekki/SHS. Acceptance that Ekki will not
rot and cannot be painted would eliminate the CRT baseless concerns for financial liabilities due to
ownership and maintenance whether owned by CRT or a Third Party. Unfortunately the CRT has
no experience of Ekki/SHS which incidentally could provide huge life cycle savings to the CRT’s
long term maintenance budget for rotting structures in the whole CRT estate.
It is due to this inexperience of modern bridgework that CRT imagines post installation costs. This
new bridge is different, it does not rot at the joints and it cannot be painted so there are no ongoing
Board of Trustees.
You say that “Any decision to accept a structure lies with our Board of Trustees...!”
I suspect that they are not capable of making a decision by themselves; they will just approve what
you recommend. Whilst I appreciate that the CRT has to manage its commitments I think it is
utterly disingenuous to compare the costs and risks of acquisition of a large probably derelict canal
with the gift of a small brand new hardwood footbridge that will not require any maintenance or
bring risks and liabilities. There has to be judgment and common sense, the trouble is the CRT
does not have any engineers or scientists in the director team and there are none amongst the 10
Trustees (as shown on the CRT website). These are Committee Professionals, ex-trustees and exdirectors
all with other several other current jobs who have spent their working life flitting about,
expanding their CVs but with no means of proving their personal contribution to the successes they
This raises big issues about the CRT governance processes. Trustees have to understand in
order to challenge and question what they have been asked to approve. But there is not an
Engineer or Scientist amongst them so they are ignorant on any technical subject. Given that you
do not have a CRT Engineering Director either, how could the technical case be presented to the
Trustees regarding the qualities of Ekki, the excellent engineering practices of SHS, and the zero
cost risk profile of the footbridge? This is another example of CRT prevarication that I have
experienced for last 2 years. The CRT has not got a procedure to evaluate, describe and approve
new technical cost saving innovations like Ekki/SHS.
The National Canal Network is currently in the custody of the CRT. It is the unique legacy of the
Great Engineers who conceived, surveyed, designed and built a transport system which triggered
the Industrial Revolution and everything that followed to change the world. Consequently,
although it is astonishing that the Canal & River Trust does not have a cohort of senior engineers
in its senior management teams, it is astounding that the CRT does not have any Trustees who are
engineers or scientists! The technical vacuum that I have detected in the Pennine Region
structure therefore extends right to the top of the CRT.
Who should benefit ?.... Not the CRT but the Public
You wrote “......and depends on a demonstration of strong overall benefit TO the Trust,…”
That is a fundamental error that indicates what has gone wrong in many areas of the CRT. I must
point out that the Memorial Footbridge will not be erected to provide benefit TO the Canal & River
Trust. The footbridge would be erected as a much needed local asset to provide benefit TO and
FOR the extended COMMUNITY….. not TO or FOR the Trust. This is fully in line with
the requirements of the CRT Constitution.
The CRT is simply the current custodian of a vast National Asset which is specified to be managed
by the CRT Constitution in every respect for Public Benefit as you once so correctly and clearly
stated but now seem to have lost your way.
The Trust has demonstrated for two bungled years that it has no enthusiasm for our bridge, it
continually prevaricates, makes difficulties, fails to communicate and creates delays. The Trust has
made no effort (since Aug. 2016) to objectively research the benefits of EKKI, the innovated bridge
design and the merits of SHS. Therefore the Trust is still ignorant of these modern solutions and is
currently not capable of making an informed decision. This is a significant indictment.
If I were CEO of CRT I would ask my Engineering Director and his team to go and talk to SHS, a
UK Company, learn all about Ekki and the Company processes and come back to advise me
promptly about any potential post installation costs for a simple footbridge of such excellent and
long lasting quality. Then, if it were me, having considered it, I would recommend the footbridge as
a very low cost/risk project to my Board of technically literate Trustees because:-
1) The Trust does not have to purchase the bridge.
2) The Trust (or any other owner) does not have to replace it in the distant future.
3) The bridge is exempt from Public Liability claims under existing law.
4) The bridge does not require any maintenance due to Ekki hardwood and excellent
construction methods.
5) The bridge would be a very cheap in-house Ekki/SHS model to study and confirm for a
future cost effective maintenance policy.
You will have seen a copy of my email and document “Footbridge post installation Notes” sent to
David Baldaccino which explains in more detail the errors in the CRT thinking on costs post
installation for this footbridge.
My email to DB gives the reasons for postponing a meeting because the Project must have these
inputs from the CRT prior to any meeting:-
1) a formal response in detail to the Project Definition, AIP (sent July 2017)
2) quantification of the fund which the CRT believes that the Project will have to provide for all
imagined costs during the next 60 years for a footbridge that does not require maintenance. Only
the CRT is able to calculate this fund.
Further CRT prevarication and delays will terminate this very public well supported project unless
there is a very prompt reactive response.
Yours sincerely,
Graham Aldred,
Project Manager. 18 Jan. 2018
Toddbrook Memorial Footbridge Project
Cc David Rutley MP
Chairman, Peak and Northern Footpaths Society

Toddbrook Memorial Footbridge
Update No. 13
18 March
Graham Aldred Page1
Update s 11 & 12 contained copies of emails and letters passed between the CRT and
the Project. By late Oct. 2017 I had run out of patience caused by the continual delays
and prevarication and decided to escalate the problem to the Chief Executive of the
CRT, Richard Parry before I reluctantly abandoned the Project.
Parry’s replies were defensive but I had included Cheshire East MP David Rutley in the
correspondence so that exposed the CRT to some embarrassing but justified publicity.
High Peak MP Ruth George kindly met me as a guest in early February 2018 and is
interested and supportive of our Project. Ruth recognises the value to the community
and publicised it in a recent Newsletter with a good photograph of herself at the weir in
full flow, which emphasises the requirement for a footbridge.
Our MPs have jointly written to Richard Parry expressing concern about the way the
Project is being treated. It is an indictment of the organisational state of the CRT that
two MPs who have so much more important work to do should even need to get
involved with the inability of the CRT to recognise and support such an obvious public
benefit…our Footbridge.
You will recall that the Project has been delayed a whole year up to Jan 2018 waiting
for various responses which include the AIP package of documentation submitted in
July 2017. Effectively we have to apply for permission twice, once to the CRT and then
to PDNP. Richard Parry responded to the pressure and exposure and tried to get his
troops all marching in the same direction but this was an unfamiliar experience for
them as the attached details reveal.
The AIP signed and approved
I eventually received the signed Approval for the AIP documentation package on Feb
26. However it is not clear what exactly this means in view of various conflicting
statements by the CRT and other hurdles the CRT have placed in our path in the months
after the AIP was first submitted (July 2017)
Also in February the CRT actually made a decision, albeit an ill judged one. Putting
aside their constitutional duty to provide and support Public Benefit, the government
funded CRT finally decided that they would not take ownership of this brand new, tiny,
high quality, factory made footbridge even as a gift. They could not contemplate the

future burden however small, being unable to differentiate between the liabilities of
owning the footbridge or owning 20 miles of 200 year old derelict canal with locks and
There are only two options: either CRT will own the bridge (the obvious, uncomplicated
but rejected solution) or there will be a Designated Owner. For the last 14 months I
have repeatedly asked the CRT what conditions (if any) they would impose on the
Designated Owner. The CRT is in a muddle because the conditions they suggest are the
same for the two different ownership states……which does not make any sense. Until
we know what is required we cannot proceed to establish a Designated Owner.
For example CRT incorrectly believe that the bridge has to be replaced at end of its life
(2080) but a bridge which is not mandated in law (i.e. not on a PROW) does not have to
be replaced at end of life so there is no onus on whoever owns it to fund a replacement.
The safe weir crossing does not have to exist in perpetuity but we can hope that future
generations will ensure that it does. There is a similar solution for Exemption from
public liability. I have attached a paper (sent to CRT 26 Sept 2017) that provides
solutions to all the CRT misconceptions about ‘Ownership’: “The Proposed Toddbrook
Footbridge regarding Ownership”. Unfortunately the solutions proposed have not been
Project Milestones.
I received a vaguely encouraging email from the CRT (22 Jan.) but it provoked a
number of questions (this was before I had received the AIP response.) In my reply I
described the immediate sequence of Project milestones and the conditions that must
be met to allow us to move forward to the next milestone. This was in order to
demonstrate to the CRT the devastating effect that the CRT delays and indecision have
had on the Project. It explains the necessary sequence particularly in relation to the
events like PDNP permission that must precede funding initiatives : see “Toddbrook
Footbridge Milestones 1.0”.
Paying the CRT!
The CRT has recently intimated that the Project should be paying them for their
responses to this Project which is quite astounding. They say they will waive these
costs but not for long ! Well any costs that they imagine are certainly self inflicted but it
is astonishing that a Registered Charity with a Constitution so rich and explicit in
declarations of Public Benefit could fail to regard our Footbridge as anything but a
justifiable community asset well within the remit of the CRT. For the record in the last

27 months there have only been two meetings, 5.5 hours in all. Meanwhile the Project’s
costs have increased due to the several delays by the CRT, the PDNP fee has increased
considerably, the Euro exchange rate and general supplier inflation in SHS so I have told
the CRT that we could invoice if the want to charge us for their time.
The Petition.
Recently (after 2 years!) the CRT has even questioned the support for the Footbridge,
despite all the evidence and Letters of Support from organisations, MPs, Local
Councils, Footpath Societies. It is difficult to see why it should matter to the CRT since
they are not paying anything for the bridge. The Petition was suggested by two
supporters Sheila Smith and Lorrie Marchington and it is a great idea, another way of
advertising the Project and emphasising the support that it has. It should be useful
when we eventually apply to PDNP if the CRT can ever recognise their duties for Public
Benefit and positively support the Project.
There is a sheet for signatures and a folded colour leaflet with a brief explanation of the
Project in either an A6 or A5 size. Supporters have been working to publicise the
Petition, particularly Penny Beresford, Jean Jeremy, Nigel Green, Angela Timothy by
placing it in their local Libraries, Shops, Churches, Societies and Groups. I encourage
everybody to get involved or at least to sign to express your support. You may have
friends and relations who have walked up to the weir, please contact them. The CRT
have no idea how widespread the use is, I have signatures from Devon, Portsmouth,
Oxford, Wiltshire as well as my local footpath Societies. The sheet asks for email
addresses, but this is optional. I know many people would prefer to leave this blank and
that is definitely OK. When the Spring eventually starts there will be more outdoor
events and stalls where the Petition will be available.
With my regards,
Graham 18 March 2018

More details are in the three documents below. Project Milestones is the most
informative one. The future sequence is one of the vital topics to be discussed at a
forthcoming meeting with the CRT.

This is my reply to the vaguely encouraging email from the CRT on 25 January.They
were trying to find out if we had any money ! I explain that we will only seek donations
when ALL the boxes are ticked.
Toddbrook Footbridge Project Milestones 1.0.
The Project’s sequence to build and install the footbridge is necessarily defined by the
achievement of a sequence of Major Milestones which must control further events in
order to avoid huge financial risk. This is because we are a Community Project 100%
funded by donations from the public. I am sure you will appreciate that unlike the CRT
we don’t have a huge budget available. The footbridge will be a very expensive single
purchase by the Community so we will only spend money when all known
CRT impediments have been resolved.
Milestone 6.
This will be achieved when the AIP package is approved and when every possible
impediment that the CRT can think of to stop or hinder the realisation of our bridge has
been cleared or formally agreed by CRT. That includes everything that CRT has raised
recently as an issue. We need a list that can be signed off. The Project must be certain
that before we pay a fee to PDNP or raise a purchase order with SHS that the CRT
cannot back out or withdraw approval on anything, or impose more
impediments.... all Milestone 6 CRT agreements must be honoured.
Milestone 7.
This will be achieved when PDNP grants Permission to erect the Footbridge. I can only
make a planning application to PDNP when Milestone 6 has been achieved without any
reservations from CRT, because PDNP will definitely not approve the application unless
CRT is in full and unreserved support. The Planning Application fee has
already increased to over £500 in the last year due to the CRT delay. We will
submit exactly the same AIP package to PDNP as the CRT received last June.
Milestone 8.
This will be achieved when we have achieved Milestone 7 and have raised the purchase
order with SHS. After one month we will receive the formal design drawings and
calculations for our specific footbridge which will be identical in design to the Eton
Footbridge described in our AIP package although narrower and slightly shorter in
span. A copy of these drawings and calculations will be made available to the CRT for
your prompt approval. Both the Project & CRT will make sure that the drawings exactly
specify what we previously ordered/approved.
There are more milestones after no. 8 but let’s focus on No. 6. We refer to an “Approval
in Principle (AIP) Package” but in fact we have provided a very detailed specification of
the structure, with calculations, details of placement on the CRT assets,
location drawings, maps, brochures and certificates on the supplier SHS , etc.. The

documentation goes well beyond “Principle” it is in fact a Detailed
Product Specification (DPS).
To put it directly: What the CRT has had so far is all that I can provide, there will be
nothing else to review, approve or reject before the bridge arrives at the weir. This is the
only material for a CRT Engineering Review of the design.
These statements in blue are from CRT’s email. This is why I am unsure about the status
of the AIP sign off. They seem to think they can review the design again ! The milestone
sequence explains why that is not possible.
Points to clarify.
1)We’re happy to work with you to see the structure constructed. But construction cannot be
initiated until Milestones 6,7,8 are achieved as I have explained. So this can only
mean you (the CRT) will “happy to work with the Project” to agree and sign off all the
CRT conditions for Milestone 6 promptly because that is the only route by which
the bridge can be constructed. Is that what you are ready to do without further delay?
2) it will need engineering review/ input because of the impact on our assets. The ‘impact on
your assets’ or loading assessment, if actually required, must be evaluated now
urgently as an input to Milestone 6 as must the Engineering Review. Both of which I
expect to have been carried out in the AIP approval process.
3) We would only give consent for the installation on the basis of any technical concerns being
addressed . Of course I agree, that is exactly my position as well. But the CRT must raise
any Technical Concerns now urgently and list them in the response to our detailed AIP
which is a key input to Milestone 6. Waiting until installation is about to start would not
be acceptable, that’s where I am confused. What you see now (AIP Package) describes
and specifies exactly what will be supplied and installed.
Post installation: I will inspect the installed bridge together with the CRT as part of the
Acceptance Procedure to ensure that the bridge is as specified. Any ‘snags’ will be
rectified or negotiated to acceptance before sign off and final payment. I am probably
more concerned to get an excellent bridge than CRT can possibly be.
4) In terms of maintenance, which there will need to be, we would need to have sight of the
maintenance plan and details of who would undertake that to have comfort about that.
We must be sure we share the same understanding of “maintenance” because we
might be closer to agreement than we realise. All footbridges require the footway or
deck to be cleaned free of leaves and accumulated mud. That is a fundamental
maintenance action that is very rarely or never carried out on footbridges in any
ownership. Failure to do it leads to failure of the deck then bridge closure then deck

replacement. Our deck will be constructed of Ekki hardwood too hard to rot. However,
for safety reasons, SHS recommends annual deck maintenance i.e. cleaning of mud
and leaves. I will schedule it for every six months initially due to the excess of mud on
paths leading to the bridge.
I hope CRT accepts by now that the Ekki structure cannot be painted/stained, so that
cannot be an issue. The only other maintenance action is to carry out a torque check on
all bolts to take up any shrinkage in the first 12-18 months after installation. In short
we will provide a plan to cover all maintenance actions, commitments, plus back up
support as we have previously described.
To move things forward, we’re happy to progress on the basis of the Trust not owning the
bridge. This is a good approach to produce some agreements on other issues although
we can’t achieve Milestone 6 until the position on ownership is clear, PDNP will require
clarity. I understand that the CRT is belatedly trying to develop an asset acquisition
procedure but, as I have said to Richard Parry, there must be intelligent judgement
between the actual relative risks of owning a free tiny brand new hardwood
footbridge against taking on twenty miles of 200 year old derelict canal or the Thames
Waterway or some other multi million pound asset.
However given that CRT will not own the footbridge, at least initially, please will you
define what conditions and funds, if any, that the CRT would expect from a Third Party
Owner? You know that I have been asking you to define this repeatedly over several
months. There are only two options: either CRT owns the bridge or a Third Party does. I
can’t establish a Third Party Owner until you define what CRT would require.
We should start a list.
Third Party Owner (TPO) Arrangements
1) TPO to provide Maintenance Plan with Operations, Resources and Back Up
2) CRT to provide a Specific Liaison Office for CRT/ TPO communications on any
footbridge issue.
3) CRT may close the footbridge if they consider it unsafe until rectified by the TPO
Third Party Ownership is yet another sad obstruction imposed on the Project by the CRT
which will certainly add more long delays and costs. It is blindingly obvious that the
bridge should be legally owned by the CRT at miniscule risk well within the decision
making pay grade of the CEO.

This is my recent reply to DB (2 March) on receipt of the AIP sign off. The dates reveal
the disorganisation and shambles as the AIP was mishandled then lost after July 2017
only to be rediscovered after my intervention with Richard Parry in December. Receipt
of the signed AIP was a condition I insisted on before a further meeting.
Dear David,
Sorry for the delay and weather related problems. Thank you for
forwarding the approved AIP sign off sheet.
It certainly took a long time. I sent the AiP (version 1.3) plus many supporting files to
Leeds on 19 July to Andy Fetherby. He replied to say it was not in his remit to consider
the bridge technically but unfortunately, not have studied the engineering drawings, he
asked how the embedded splice plates would be inspected. I replied that the splice
plates could only be inspected by totally destroying the footbridge which is a very
extreme action. Clearly he had not noticed that the plates are not accessible and
therefore protected from corrosion. There was no reply from the CRT until 1 Sept when
Daniel Preston (who agreed with me re the splice plates) wrote a form of words re the
plates as a guide to me to insert into the AIP in para. 3.8.2 .
I then re-submitted the amended AIP to Daniel and Andy on 5 Sept. However this
revised version seems to have got lost because the version that Fran sent to me 2 Feb
2018 was the original 19 July version but with exactly the same words added as an
amendment that Daniel had suggested to me on the 1 Sept and which I had
incorporated in the version I had sent on 5 Sept ! This means there was an approvable
AIP somewhere in the CRT on the 5 September 2017, 20 weeks before the actual
approval. In addition in Sept. the CRT could not even decide who was to be the TAA. but
it turned out to be Leeds Asset Team where the AIP had been sent originally in July.
I think it’s important to put these details on record as one example and evidence
because I believe that Richard thinks that I have been harsh in my criticisms of the CRT
organisation. He has only viewed the AIP saga since Christmas whereas my critical
perspective is from Jan 2017. We have lost 13 months due to the CRT and that will
increase our costs considerably in three measurable ways which should be taken into
consideration. The bridge should/could have been installed this Autumn.
I agree that we could now get together to clarify the position on every issue including
the scope of the AIP and then decide whether our Community Project can continue. As I
have said we need a formal base line of agreements from the CRT that cannot change
once I apply to PDNP with a fee. I would like to be assured that the CRT will treat the
Project proactively and with goodwill from now on. PDNP will (eventually) send familiar
documents to CRT (the AIP documentation package) together with the agreements
from our next meeting so PDNP form should be rapidly signed off. No long grass! The

bridge will not cost anything, the CRT will not own the bridge but the CRT has approved
the design, the supplier and the placement in the AIP, no further technical reviews will
be required, so the Project is not complicated for the CRT.
We should use your Email Jan 19, my reply plus Project Milestones 1.0 and my last
email to Richard, all have relevant points as a basis for the discussion. As you
suggested, we could put Third Party Ownership (TPO) to one side initially in order to
conclude some non ownership related points but ultimately we must agree the TPO role
and any CRT conditions. I have provided solutions to the We must be realistic about the
future because neither of us can possible predict the cost of anything in 2070.
I am very disappointing that we are now 2 months into the third year of this Project, and
have not yet even applied to PDNP. So now let us hope we can work together and
promptly agree all the outstanding issues.
David, do you have a copy of my last email to Richard ?

My regards,
Graham Aldred

This next document offers solutions for all the issues of ownership, maintenance and
Public Liability that the CRT had raised (written 26 Sept 2017). There has been no
The proposed Toddbrook Footbridge regarding ownership.
It is rather disappointing that the CRT have currently declined to accept the footbridge
as a gift after it will have been fully approved and installed.
The attributes and status of the footbridge in favour of such ownership are as follows:-
1) A factory manufactured and tested design, meeting all appropriate standards of
quality, certification, safety and production processes. It will be installed by the
2) Made of Ekki hardwood, one of the hardest woods known which cannot accept
preservatives or paint, assembled using construction industry standard
galvanised steel components to ensure a structural and material maintenance
free life.
3) Annual Inspection and Service operations of clearing the deck of mud and leaves
will be carried out by a Local Amenity Group, (Whaley4ward) with secondary
back up from the WBTC to ensure that this service continues in time.

4) The bridge will be mounted on a CRT asset (the weir abutments) and connected
to a CRT permissive path on both sides of the weir. It will be located entirely on
CRT property.
5) It is therefore logical and necessary that the bridge should also have permissive
status regardless of who owns it. If the CRT were to own the bridge the Trust
would own the complete set of assets at the weir so the CRT could close it to the
public at will in order to carry out any necessary maintenance or reconstruction
operations on the weir itself.
6) Given that it is a permissive footbridge then any owner does not have the
responsibility to replace it at the end of its long life as would be the case if it
were located on a PROW. The bridge will be placed across the weir gratuitously
as a modern convenient amenity to provide safe and predictable pedestrian
access to the existing network of PROWS.
This amenity has not existed for the last 180 years although pedestrians have,
with great determination, continued to use the ancient and natural route through
the Toddbrook valley despite the existence of the weir and the reservoir.
However this bridge is not mandated by any law so, if after 50 years or more, it
ceases to be functional then any owner will not be responsible for its
replacement. Pedestrian access might then revert once again to the current ad
hoc routes across the weir.
7) Any owner of a permissive bridge is not liable to the public for any accidents or
injuries that might occur in normal use of the footbridge provided the structure
particularly the handrails and decking are maintained to the original safe
standard approved by the TAA.
Any owner of a permissive path or structure (bridge) owes this duty of care to a
user under the Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. In this respect the public
liability for the new bridge would not differ than from that for any of the other
bridges in the CRT estate. It would seem that a new bridge of such exceptional
quality and durability could hardly increase the exposure of the CRT by any
measurable extent. Nevertheless any owner can even exempt himself from this
liability under the 1957 Act by placing a notice to that effect warning users of
the exemption.
The standard reference work used here is Rights of Way (Fourth Edition)… A
Guide to Law & Practice. by Riddall & Trevelyan. This is a very well known
reference book of high repute used by all highway authorities, solicitors etc.
whose work involves the wide subject of Rights of Way.

It appears that the CRT is in an ambiguous position in the matters of Technical
Approval, Maintenance and Ownership. It seems to the Project that the CRT
wants to impose all the requirements that might be expected if the CRT was
going to own the footbridge ultimately when in fact the CRT will have no
responsibility or liability for a bridge it chooses not to own. In all logic there must
be a difference in CRT concerns between the two cases of potential ownership.
Given that the CRT have declined to own the bridge despite the previous
analysis, we need to know urgently what requirements the CRT would expect an
Alternate Owner to meet in order to avoid further delays to this project by the
As you know I cannot apply to PDNP until I have your answers, to date the CRT
have delayed the application by nine months so far this year.
May I look forward to an early reply.
My regards,

Graham 26 September 2017

Proposed Memorial Footbridge. Update No 7 June 2017


Unfortunately there has been less progress than could have been achieved since the last report in February because the Canal & River Trust were not able to commit to a second meeting until 4.5 months after my request. In 2016 it took 8 months to arrange a first meeting, so their record is not good. It is unfortunate that this has delayed the project by 4 months. But we are in their hands.

Second Meeting with CRT.

We met at my house on June 9th and had friendly and constructive discussions. The purpose was to get their reaction to the new design and all the attributes of the footbridge as described in update No 4 after the site visit by SHS last December. I particularly want to find out how to make an ‘application for approval in principle’ direct to CRT prior to making the main Planning Application to Peak National Park.

The Eton College bridge described in update 4 is the same design but with a somewhatlonger span so the drawings supplied by SHS do provide all the correct engineering detail for discussions and for the subsequent applications. As ever there is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation because the formal drawings for the Toddbrook footbridge will not be available until 2 weeks after the order is given to SHS. But the order cannot be placed until all permissions and approvals have been achieved. Therefore we must have a trustable ‘committed approval in principle’ from CRT and PDNP in which we need to be sure that they both accept that the Eton College design faithfully represents the Toddbrook design and specification in all respects except the span and width.One risky solution would be to ask SHS to produce the Toddbrook drawings andspecification well in advance of the order at a none refundable cost paid in advance, then we could make sure that both CRT and PDNP had given full approval so we could confidently place the order (less drawing costs).

Important agreements. 

The general specification of the bridge design and the SHS company credentials are veryimpressive so there ought to be no difficulty for these in the subsequent formal approval both with CRT and PDNP.The new placement of the footbridge which does not compromise access to the blocking slots as shown in Drawing 100 is agreed. This will require only two horizontal bars to cut from the safety rails and no interference with the vertical postsThe bridge will be made long enough to be mounted centrally on a concrete or wooden padbolted on to the existing weir masonry. Back filling with concrete is will not be necessary.
The planning applications will require solutions for the following.

Routine Maintenance.

The bridge will be manufactured using Ekki a very hard, dense and durable hardwood. Ekkiis used in very harsh industrial environments, in quarries, mines, sea lock gates. All steelfittings and dowels will be plated. The bridge will be factory made, delivered and installed on site by SHS. A life of at least 50years is specified, more is expected. It is not possible to paint or impregnate the wood. Therefore unlike the vast majority of other foot bridges it will not ever require any structural or material maintenance.However in use the footway will naturally accumulate mud and leaves. If these are notremoved the drainage slots in the footway will become blocked and this will encouragegrowth plants and mosses. The footway of most footbridges illustrates this neglect which can lead to serious structural decay in less well specified bridges.In the planning applications we are required to formally specify which organisations will beresponsible for this caretaker routine maintenance of ‘sweeping the leaves’ for the life of thebridge regardless of the fact that it is not done on any other bridge in the locality. We need an established organisation by name (not an individual) to accept this responsibility and there needs to be a second organisation which will pick up the baton should the first organisation be ‘wound up’. Clearly there is no cost, the volunteer would just need to ‘bring their own brush & bucket’ and visit the weir 2 or 3 times a year.Even if we were not mandated to establish this I would have wanted such an arrangementanyway. This is a fine footbridge and by design, location and purpose it will provide anamenity that the wider community should value and enjoy for many years. I can think of twoor three organisations in WB who might consider being the primary caretakers and oneorganisation who might be the overseer. I am confident that this can be solved and willcontact these groups individually sometime after this newsletter has been mailed.Of course I will be taking a lot of interest and inspecting the bridge during the first year or so as it settles into its environment, reporting back to SHS, some initial shrinkage is to beexpected even with Ekki and certain bolts may need to be tightened but the shrinkage wontcontinue over time.

Bridge Ownership.

This was discussed and I suggested that given the long predicted life due to materials andgood design as described earlier and given that the bridge would be located entirely in and on the CRT estate it would be logical for CRT to take ownership of the footbridge afterinstallation at no financial risk. The bridge will be served by CRT permissive paths on bothsides of the bridge. The owners of such paths are not constrained by duties of responsibilityto users as on PROW paths, permissive paths are used at ‘own risk’ (most canal towpaths)and don’t have to be maintained. So it makes great sense to connect the paths together by a fine ‘permissive’ bridge which you also use at ‘own risk’. Thus the CRT would have noliability exactly the same as with the many canal and lock bridges and landings in theirexisting estate. The Toddbrook footbridge would join the many hundreds of existing CRTbridges distinguished by its quality, by no requirement for serious maintenance and by itscommitted caretaker regime.The CRT said they would have to take advice on this simple and logical solution.Ownership is crucial and a solution must be agreed with the CRT in the next fewmonths before the application to PDNP can be made. No solution means no bridge.

Flood Risk.

Readers might remember that the whole of the Toddbrook valley extending back to Kishfield Bridge is rated as Flood Zone 3b which is the highest risk in the UK. The risk is not about a possible failure in the dam but the possibility of a huge flood caused by rain gathered from  the entire watershed of the Todd south of Kettleshulme extending up to Shining Tor and west to the Sponds Ridge. Our footbridge has had to be assessed for the possible impedance it might cause to such a rare flood.I applied for the risk assessment in February and paid the £50 fee. The well named Cheshire East Lead Local Flood Authority for Ordinary Watercourse Land Drainage (!) is based in Crewe, they visited the weir and made their assessment on 7 March. It is quite obvious that a huge flood could not be constrained or diverted by the footbridge because once the flood water is 1 metre high it will flow around the bridge on the piers at either side to use the extra 23 m. wide (Dwg.104 attached). I am glad to report that consent CEC-LDC17-004 has been granted on 2 June for the project but it expires after only one year.Although such an extreme flood is predictably very rare the potential for rapid flash floodsurges on the Todd should not be underestimated and this makes a strong case for theinstallation of the footbridge given that people do cross the weir when it is flowing and looksshallow. Just this week (11 June) the tall weeds growing in cracks in the weir throat show that the water has been about 12 inches high for some period in the previous week. The water would take some time to gather from the watershed so it might have stopped raining by the time the flash flood arrived at the weir. Some readers may remember the tragedy some years ago in which a man was drowned, trapped in his car, washed over the parapet trying to drive across the flooded Todd road bridge west of Kettleshulme.The footbridge will provide a safe and reliable crossing and should prevent people ‘taking achance’.

What Next?

I have previously had preliminary planning advice (in December 2016).The aim is now toapply to PDNP for full planning approval (which will cost £195 …..and will go up in 3months) as soon as possible but there is no point in doing this until CRT have granted‘Approval in Principle’ which I have yet to even apply for due to the 4.5 month delay statedearlier. Solutions to Ownership and Routine Maintenance and Technical Design will allcontribute to ‘Approval in Principle’ by the CRT…….and that’s only limited approval….After the application has been made PDNP will contact various Agencies including CRT,Flood Risk, SSSI …..etc. If these agencies had never heard of the project we could grow very much older waiting. My strategy has been to introduce as many agencies as possible to the project directly and in parallel, discuss, send files, get permission, then when PDNP contacts them the inevitable serial delays are avoided… hopefully….because they already know about the bridge and might have approved their part. I am hoping that this will speed it up.

I have no idea how long the Peak National Park will take or indeed CRT. I suspect this iswhen the prevarication will really start. I have been working on this project for 18 monthsnow and much has been achieved but there is a limit to my continuous commitment. I want to aim at the bridge being in place by Summer 2018 which is quite possible provided CRT and PDNP can be prodded into action.

Graham Aldred June 12 2017

Showing how the bridge will not block a rare flood and how the water can run aroundthe bridge when it reaches 1.1 m high.



20th Feb 2017

To Friends of the Memorial Footbridge,

This update describes the latest status on the footpaths which will serve the footbridge. 
There would be not much point in installing  a fine footbridge without the availability of
 a system of approved, friendly and safe footpaths.

The existing unofficial footpath on the lower south side is located on very boggy ground 
and would be very costly to bring up  to and maintain it at  a safe standard.  The potential 
High Level route along the south pier and across the south bank has been surveyed and 
developed into a viable path which circuits the boggy area.This new path will be further 
improved before the bridge is installed but it will be this path that the CRT will be asked 
to designate as permissive.

The attached document includes three maps and several photographs which will help to 
illustrate the text and the progress.

Overall the position on footpaths is now clear and no longer a complicated mess. Simply the 
whole route from the main dam at Whaley Bridge up to the junction with FP24 will be 
generously designated ‘Permissive’ by the two owners  involved.

Overall this is a big step forward for the project.
Kind regards,
Graham Aldred

Proposed Memorial Footbridge


Update No 6 February 2017 


Permissive status decision.

The unofficial footpaths on the south side of the weir have been the subject of much 
discussion and many emails throughout last year. The final position is that both of the 
owners have kindly agreed that the status of these short fragments of paths shall be 
designated as permissive. This would match the permissive status of the path from the 
main dam up to the weir. Cheshire East, Rights of Way have advised that seeking to 
designate fragments of paths as PROWs, which are contained within an overall permissive 
route, would not be supported or be approved by them and that few owners are prepared to 
opt for PROW status anyway. CRT would definitely not change the long standing permissive status of the reservoir path which leads to the weir.

This outcome is good news for the Project and for the owners as well because it removes 
more ponderous bureaucracy and cost and it provides some welcome certainty for me by tying down at least one flying tentacle of the Project Octopus I have to wrestle with.

Condition of the unofficial paths

The current low level CRT section

This path is about 85m. long and would have to be radically improved. Some new steps 
would be required for walkers to descend to river level from the end of the footbridge on 
south pier into a bog. The way forward is then immediately blocked by a large dead tree 
trunk which forces a walker into an even deeper bog to get round it. The route then crosses 
more boggy ground at river level to a wide incoming drain which would require a long planked deck. Various routes then continue across the bog and climb up a slippery bank with running water to join with the Gap House section. This area never empties because it is virtually at river level and it receives three small streams which drain water from the south bank and the fields above. 

At the outset I thought that it could be made viable by a series of planks and ground 
decking but closer examination showed that there was so much variable bog and other 
obstacles that it would be an extensive and costly task. After a year or so the result 
might be slimy planks on sinking legs in need of chicken wire. This would be a high 
maintenance path and, most importantly, the CRT would be unlikely to assign permissive status to this path because any planking and ground decking structures that the Project had funded and given to the CRT would subsequently impose unacceptable liabilities on them. The CRT would also expect the Project to provide funds for the future maintenance of the ground decking.  None of this is good.

An Alternative High Level CRT Path

Some readers might remember that in Update No.1 I suggested that it might be possible to 
utilise the overgrown south pier as a path and make a higher level route across the bank to 
circumnavigate the boggy area. After surveying the unofficial boggy route last autumn, it 
became urgent to look at this potential High level Route. In November I escaped from 
paperwork to check how feasible the route would be. There were two options, one would have required a lot of new and complicated steps up to an unnecessary height but the somewhat easier option required fewer steps and the construction of a short rising diagonal path across the steep south bank to reach flatter ground, going no higher than necessary but keeping well above the boggy area. At first I just dug a few footholds to allow me to cross the bank to avoid an undesired descent into the bog and also to test how easy it was to dig. Then the footholds somehow got joined up to form a narrow groove and then the groove grew wider somewhat unintentionally but that was quite pleasing. Some basic steps were constructed made difficult by tree roots (will be improved). All the work was done with 
care to get the best line and minimise the intrusion, replanting disturbed flora where 
possible. On reaching the flatter ground there is evidence of an old disused path running 
east west. It needed some clearance and minor levelling in a few places but it is an obvious
constructed path from the past. Turning westwards it leads directly to the current Gap House section in relative comfort and with dry boots. The overall result is very encouraging and there is a now a new route from the end of the proposed footbridge on the south pier above the bog which connects with the ‘long lost path’ leading to the Gap House section and thus onwards via FP 24 to Kishfield Bridge
The newly dug path is about 35m long but not finished yet, there are a number of improvements I want make which can be done as the Project progresses. The important thing is that the high level route is proved, it works and it is already in use as indicated by the footprints  of humans, local deer and possibly a badger who have all voted with their feet. This is a major achievement for our Project and it removes one more problem, one more arm of the octopus is tied down. 

This new high level route is the one we will ask the CRT to designate as the permissive 
path rather than the current unofficial path across the boggy area. It is important to the 
status of the fine memorial footbridge that it should be served by appropriate paths. Most importantly the new route south of the footbridge will be maintenance free and require no construction costs and will not have any structures that could impose an unacceptable liability on the CRT. I estimate that it would have cost (£4-6K) for some third party installation of ground decking, planks and steps to bring the current unofficial path up to a viable standard.

The Gap House section.

This is only 35m. long from the branch on FP 24 to the start of the CRT section and is in 
a reasonable condition familiar to many walkers and typical of official PROW status paths. 
It connects directly with the alternative high level path described previously. The following 
maps will hopefully illustrate the arrangement described in these paragraphs.

Some thoughts on the old disused path. The very useful westwards arm of this path described above stays within the CRT property boundary as drawn on modern maps. However the eastwards arm is within the Gap House property boundary, in fact it probably is the boundary line. This eastern section is very overgrown now but it is obvious that it was deliberately dug out in places long ago and constructed to run on the edge of a precarious but (then) fenced cliff which rises high above the weir. The extent and purpose of construction strongly suggests that it could only have been made with the approval of the owner of Gap House. This footway could not have been created over time by natural wear of continual trespassers heading to and from Whaley Bridge. 

The Brocklehurst silk manufacturing family of Macclesfield owned Gap House in 1830 when the reservoir was first planned. It was fashionable then for owners of property with woodland to make recreational paths leading deviously to exciting viewpoints or features etc. It is 
possible that the disused path was one of these paths because it leads to a high promontory
which dramatically overlooks the weir with good views across the reservoir to Whaley Bridge and the hills beyond. Alternatively it is possible that Mr. Brocklehurst was a benefactor who made this path for general public use so that there was still a route to and from Whaley Bridge after the reservoir was flooded and the normal valley route was therefore closed. However I suspect that was rather unlikely because Victorian owners were generally very protective of their property. Also the terrain and a deep ravine show no evidence that a path continued eastwards towards Whaley Bridge. Nevertheless this old path could be part of a future ‘round the reservoir’ route but only with the permission of the owners of Gap House. In any case the existing FP24 already arrives at virtually the same place. 

Although the Reservoir Circuit will be greatly enabled by the footbridge and the new path it 
is not part of the current project and will have its own project octopus. To have to wrestle
with two octopus at the moment would be just one too many.

With my best wishes,

Graham Aldred
18 February 2017

Maps and photos 


The route of the existing unofficial path is shown in red. The green area is CRT property.
It is flat and the lower part is notoriously boggy where the path is. The white area in the 
south belongs to Gap House. The dotted line is PROW FP 24

Map 2. 

Zooming in for more detail but unfortunately the colours are reversed!
CRT is white, Gap House is green

Map 3. 

The unofficial RED path branches left from FP 24,
crosses Gap House land (grey) and progresses across boggy white CRT land to the weir.The first part of this path on the grey is the proposed permissive path on Gap House property.

The newly constructed GREEN path keeps high above the bog on a short section of recently cleared long lost path, it then follows the newly dug path down across the bank, then down some new steps to traverse along the south pier to mount the footbridge directly at the right height. This GREEN path is the proposed permissive section on CRT property, about 80 m long.I want to do more work to improve the green path especially the steps but it is quite usable already with care by those who wish to avoid the bog to reach the weir

This image is more important than it looks! It illustrates the case for the Memorial 
Footbridge.  It is the view on FP24 at the start of the reds line on map 1 looking towards the
weir where the well used unofficial branch to the left leaves FP 24. PROW FP 24 bears right
here indicated by the yellow arrow on the pine tree but showing hardly any evidence of 
footfall. This predominant use of the unofficial branch illustrates the requirement for a
footbridge to provide a safe and predictable means of crossing the Toddbrook leading to the
reservoir path to Whaley Bridge.

This is a view towards the weir of the boggy swamp that the current unofficial path on the 
CRT property crosses to reach the weir. The new high level path takes a circuitous route, 
over the fallen tree in the bottom right, above the swamp to reach the proposed footbridge 
by means of the south abutment.The bog crossing would require sections of ground decking and would be unpredictably expensive to install and maintain. It would be unlikely to get CRT approval as a permissive path. The high level path has none of these issues. It avoids the boggy ground completely and it works.

Showing the start of the newly dug section of the high level route under construction 
(December 2016) looking eastwards towards the weir.

 The same path looking westwards away from the weir towards Lichfield Bridge

The steps near the South Pier under construction December 2016 looking towards Kishfield Bridge.


10th Feb 2017

Attached is a project update regarding definitiion of County boundries and matters arising from the advice stage of the  Planning Application to Peak District National Park.

The topics exposed may look a little daunting but they are actually quite interesting ! So I 
encourage at least some of you to read  this update so as to be aware of the extent of  regulatory hurdles arranged in series for such a simple development as a walkers footbridge to be placed across a small stream in the Peak District National Park.The other Agencies which either do or might need an additional planning application are :  
Environment Agency, English Nature, Historic England, Forestry Commission, CE Lead Local Flood Authority.

This update explains that a flood risk assessment is required for any bridge installed across a watercourse as part of the application to PDNP.. 

Fourteen months into the project, after writing many thousands of words, emails, phone calls, maps,drawings, photographs and the many many hours to produce them, the great irony is that 100m. upstream from the weir a large beech tree has recently  fallen across the Todd. It did that quite outrageously without asking for any planning permission from any of the several agencies. And it is  already in use as a bridge by some intrepid walkers. There would be no issues of planning permission, ownership, no maintenance, no large cost, no safety approval, no concerns for habitats, no access problems and particularly no assessment of its greater risk of causing a flood than our footbridge. Its natural, its wood, its ready made, its already installed, its free of any costs. Perhaps our alternative option would be to put a few handrails on this fallen tree, add the odd rope and a few steps at one end......It could be a working natural tree bridge within four weeks  without any Agencies being involved....... Its only a the moment !

With my regards

Graham Aldred

Proposed Memorial Footbridge. Update No 5 February 2017

Boundaries & Authorities

The proposed footbridge, the weir structure and its abutments are located within East Cheshire and the Peak National Park, the boundaries coincide there. No part of the structure is in Derbyshire. It took some months to get this agreed and accepted by all the parties because the exact position of boundary lines have changed since 1860. The ordinance survey of 1860 shows that the Peak Forest Canal Company had sensibly got the County boundary moved from the centre of Toddbrook to the north in order to locate the whole of their weir structure in one single County,...Cheshire. Since then the County boundary has slipped about, moved westwards and become generally distorted, perhaps 
accidentally, by uncontrolled computer based graphical methods, some of which lines even cross the  weir itself diagonally. Nevertheless the Cheshire/Derbyshire Boundary at the weir is currently defined by the wall at the foot of the steps leading to the north abutment. Furthermore Cheshire East Planning has finally confirmed that they will not require a planning application for the footbridge because the Peak District National Park (PDNP) is the designated Authority for planning applications in the Kettleshulme region. The PDNP boundary coincides with the County border at the weir. This simple agreement took several months to achieve. I was making little headway with Cheshire East Planning until Cheshire East MP, David Rutley, CE Borough Cllr. Howard Murray and Disley Parish Cllr. and PA to Mr Rutley, Jackie Pattinson, who all support our project, used their influence in their various ways with the Cheshire East administration to achieve this result. The latter two 
Councillors took the trouble to visit the weir with me on Nov 16th on one of our soaking wet days to inspect the site and to confirm the location of the boundary by GPS.

Peak District National Park (PDNP) Planning Application.

The result is that only one planning application is required rather than three because the 
bridge will not have a foot in two counties. This is very good news. 
PDNP have a three stage planning process. In stage 1 (free) you submit as many documents as you think are required and advice is given on how to expand and improve your application. 
Stage 2 is optional but requires a fee. In this stage PDNP advise if you have any chance 
of getting approval. In stage 3 you actually formally submit the application , together 
with an even bigger fee.  However PDNP may not grant approval despite what they said
previously at stage 2!
There are 7 sheets which list the national fees for everything you might want to build.
A footbridge is classed as a building with a very tiny footprint. Stage 2 would cost £100 
and Stage 3 would cost either £195or £385.

Application 28546 was submitted on 6 Dec. into stage 1 with 13 supporting documents:-
project description, photos, maps, bridge specification and drawings and copies of letters 
of support from MPs etc. The reply was received within the prescribed 15 days stating that
full planning permission would be required for the footbridge and giving some general advice regarding information required on various topics and, particularly, the involvement by other Agencies. 
The subsequent emails are given below which indicate the breadth of the topics which have to be addressed and all the other agencies which have to be involved. 

The Reply from PDNP......19 Dec. Main points

“...... In general design terms I would advise that the bridge appears simple and modest, 
which is welcome....
.....The development could have cultural heritage issues in terms of its setting, and 
archaeological implications in terms of its construction. 

......The Authority would need to be provided with as much detail as possible on the 
history of the weir and water management system,

.....and to understand the ground conditions where the bridge would be constructed, and 
what impacts the construction would have on the ground.

.......the site is also located within Flood Zones 2 and 3. It is not clear from the Authority’s 
records whether it is in 3a or 3b, which are sub-categories of Zone 3, with different 
restrictions on the types of development permitted within them. 

.......The National Planning Policy Framework requires all development proposals in 
flood zones 2 or 3 to be accompanied by a site-specific Flood Risk Assessment, on which the Authority would consult the Environment Agency as part of the application process. I would advise that you clarify which Zone the site is in with the EA prior to making an application,and establish what information they would require to accompany an application in order for them to be able to assess the proposal.”

My Response to PDNP. 16 Jan 2017

........This project is not commercial nor is it contended, it will provide considerable 
amenity value and will be a recreational asset for the wider community, fully in sympathy
with the objects of the National Park. It is well supported at many levels including by 
the two local MPs, Councils, Footpath Societies, residents and landowners. We have limited funds currently so must be sure that our application is as complete as possible when we submit it with our fee, therefore may I ask you for more clarification/ advice for the 
preparation.  In response I have provided more detail to points raised in your email as 

1 It would be sited adjacent to a stone weir.

Well, as stated in my documents, the footbridge will be mounted directly on the original 
masonry abutments which face each other across the threshold or throat of the weir.
The weir was built in 1833-35on top of a natural rocky waterfall to control the water 
flow from the Toddbrook into a new reservoir and to provide the mandatory diverted 
stream for onwards flow to the river Goyt by means of a regulator valve built into the 
masonry structure on the north side of the weir. The weir is located in a wooded ravine. 

2 Water management system.

The weir at the reservoir head is not in fact the primary source of water fed to the 
reservoir. Water is normally fed from a second weir of much younger construction from 
the river feed channel itself. This arrangement is located about 0.5 miles from the weir, 
much nearer the main dam which perhaps allows more precise control but not relevant 
to this application since the footbridge can have no possible influence on the river feed. 
The small Toddbrook has a variable water flow and so the main weir often does not carry much
water, anything in the range from zero to about five inches. The reservoir overflow is 0.8 
of a mile away from the weir at the side and on the main dam.

3 Cultural heritage issues in terms of its setting.....

A permissive footpath on the north side of the reservoir runs from the main dam at Whaley 
Bridge up to the weir. Eight stone steps lead from this path to the weir structure where the
bridge will be mounted. In this setting the bridge with its arched span will look 
particularly attractive, especially when viewed looking westwards from the reservoir path. 

I am anxious that the bridge and its materials must blend and enhance its setting and 
not contradict its environment. The hardwood Ekki is dark brown in colour initially and 
goes a more dark ash colour as it ages, and, as stated, it requires no structural or 
material maintenance or application of any preservative in a planned 50 year life, so 
the water or flora beneath will not be contaminated by any alien chemical drips.

I have examined the appropriate websites, the abutments of the weir are outside of the 
designated SSSI area which has been allocated to the Toddbrook reservoir itself in 
consideration of two mosses and two liverworts that inhabit the mud flats exposed when the 
reservoir level is lowered, typically in a dry summer to supply the Marple lock system.
I have made contact with the Natural England scientist responsible for the Toddbrook 
reservoir to discuss the bridge which will be 10m. above the mud banks.

4 Archaeological implications in terms of its construction

I have been advised by the Canal & River Trust (CRT) that any original constructional
drawings and documents would be with the National Waterways Museum (NWM) at Ellesmere Port.
NWM have kindly searched their archives at my request and were unable to find any original documents showing the Weir design and construction. In fact there is only one sheet, drawn in 1943 by the LNER who then owned the local canal system, which provides rough sketches and dimensions of the main dams for six local canal feeder reservoirs including the Toddbrook. There are no details of any minor structures like the weir. In those days the dimensions of minor structures would very probably be specified verbally by the engineer to the foreman who would instruct his gang of stone masons. The abutments are capped with flat massive masonry blocks. (see photos).
The footbridge will have a hardwood bearer at each end of the span which will be anchored 
to these masonry blocks with bolts.

The CRT will have to approve the specific engineering design of the bridge, the standards 
of manufacture, FSC materials sourcing, the constructional details and its mounting 
arrangements. This technical approval would complement your PDNP approval. Each approval would be conditional on the other.

5  Ground conditions where the bridge would be constructed, and possible impact on the ground.

The northern abutment of the weir provides a flat area were the assembly of some parts of 
the bridge will take place. Most assembly will take place in situ in the weir threshold
hopefully when the water flow is zero or small. There is no intention to block the flow with 
blocking planks. Currently there are piles of debris and earth that have been dumped there
by British Waterways or CRT from clearance activities of the weir threshold and the valve 
intake. Some of these unplanned piles will have to be moved aside to allow access to the 
bridge. There will be no impact to the ground itself, this platform is well trodden by 
walkers as it is the official terminus for the reservoir path.

There will be no heavy tractors or cranes because unfortunately there is no access for such 
machines onto the reservoir path. All bridge components and tools will have to be manhandled and hand drawn on trolleys after being offloaded from a truck on Reservoir Road, 0.8 of a mile away.

6  Flood Risk Assessment.

I have studied the National flood risk maps and note that Environment Agency (EA) has 
classified the Toddbrook reservoir and upstream of the weir at the highest UK flood risk,
Flood Zone 3a, (the same risk as the York or Carlisle city areas). However the EA has not 
classified the Toddbrook which feeds the reservoir as a ‘Main River’, it is therefore an 
‘Ordinary Watercourse’ and therefore is not within the EA’s remit for flood risk assessments.

I understand that there is a process for all development proposals but I must ask you to 
clarify the position in this case. Who will you consult with regard to flood risk and who 
therefore must I provide details to? Given that this is not a proposal for a housing 
development close to a river I don’t know if the concern is about the bridge being washed
away or the bridge impeding the water flow in extreme flooding conditions? Which potential problem is PDNP concerned about?

See ‘Late News’

7 An analysis of extreme floods at the weir

Unfortunately you have not seen the weir design on site. The natural banks are 32m apart, 
a minor dam 1m high was built between the banks. There is a gap in this dam 8m. wide which provides the throat of the weir. This gap provides the abutments for the weir across which  the footbridge will be placed. If the water level were ever to reach an incredible 1m. then it would start to spill over the minor dam at each side with a whole extra 24m. to use.  The water would not even touch the bridge before the extra 24m. came into use and prevented a further rise in water level.

The weir abutment structure (the minor dam) therefore has inherent flood control in its 
design and it will maintain the water level at 1m.which will always be below the proposed
bridge bearers. The footbridge could not possibly impede or redirect the flood from its 
onwards path nor could the bridge get washed away even if the most improbable extreme flood were to occur. 

There is a further self regulating natural effect. Weirs are simply man made waterfalls. In this case there is a paved floor 2.5m before the drop, this allows the water to speed up as it approaches the weir head even more than it would on an irregular natural river bed. Thus the water can maintain its most efficient laminar flow before the drop, there is no back turbulence to impede the increasing speed. So the water has a much reduced chance to rise up to any height, especially to 1m. in the throat of the weir, because it keeps getting pushed down the weir by the speeding water behind it. So I suggest that there are two inherent modes of self regulation such that a flood cannot occur at the throat of the weir where the bridge is mounted even in the event of an improbable flood arising from an apocalyptic rainstorm.“

End of my reply to Peak Park

Late News.

I have actually found out who is responsible for Flood Risk Assessments for ‘Ordinary 
Watercourses’ as opposed to ‘Main Rivers’.The Environment Agency has devolved this 
responsibility to various County Authorities under the Land Drainage Act 1991. These
departments are called ‘Lead Local Flood Authorities ‘ (LLFA).  I am now in contact with the 
LLFA in Cheshire East and am about to submit 22 files of maps, drawings , photos and project descriptions to allow them to study our simple project before I can actually apply for ‘Ordinary  Watercourse Land Drainage Consent’ with a fee. This is the only way to get a flood risk  assessment. It is a second planning application nested within the main planning application to the Peak District and there may well be other applications required by the several other Agencies which inhabit the Toddbrook Reservoir.

Graham  Aldred
9  February 2017


Graham Aldred wrote on 30th August:

To Friends of the Memorial Footbridge Project, 
Attached is my latest report giving details of some progress at last.  A small light at the end of a dark tunnel, hopefully not a train.
The CRT have visited the weir with us and generously gave us time for a meeting afterwards.
It seems that the complexities of definitive PROW status have been avoided for the short unofficial path on the south bank. It can be a permissive path.
Proposed Memorial Footbridge. Update No 3                      August 2016
1 Meeting with CRT.
We had a friendly and constructive meeting with CRT at Whaley Bridge, 4 August 2016. Those present were CRT: David Baldaccino, Waterway Manager,  Daniel Preston, Principal Bridge Eng.  Project:  Graham Aldred, David Oldbury. The meeting took place at the weir and later at the Footsteps Centre.
Bridge Placement.
GA had proposed that the bridge could utilise the existing gate aperture to reduce costs.
1) To avoid any modifications to the safety rails.
2) To avoid obstructing the blocking planks.
 3) To avoid congestion at the top of the stone steps caused by bridge.
4) To avoid having to clear a large pile of clay and stones on both sides of the weir.
5) To facilitate the examination of the masonry blocks for the bridge foundation.
However CRT decided that the bridge should be placed nearer the weir on the downstream side of the blocking slots out of safety considerations for possible future maintenance operations on the weir.
CRT also decided that the stability and condition of the masonry blocks to which the bridge would be bolted should be assessed and that the space behind the blocks might have to be dug out and back filled with concrete.
These decisions could increase project costs considerably.  However, although CRT will not fund the bridge itself they indicated that this additional site preparation work could possibly be covered as necessary maintenance to the weir structure.  If this can be done it would be a significant contribution of support for the project under the recreational remit of the CRT.
The CRT said that they do welcome Letters of Support and Interest in the Project particularly from local Councils and Societies which indicate the breadth of support there is in the Community. These will help CRT to justify any assistance and effort that they may be able to make in site preparation and other project requirements such as access.
Flood Level at the Weir.
CRT advised us to obtain data from the Environmental Agency (EA) for the highest predicted water level in the next 50 years, however improbable and despite any anecdotal history of levels more than about 25cm. at the weir. CRT explained that any new structure on a river must not have the potential to impede the river flow in extreme flood conditions. In fact, due to the design of the weir if an extreme flood did occur water would escape over either pier round the bridge.     
 Post meeting: CRT advised us that the Todd is not classed as a ‘Main River’ by the EA so they will not have this data. However a CRT colleague could possibly extrapolate the data from the reservoir filling records.
Status of the New Footpath.
This was discussed at length. There is about 600 ft of well used but unofficial footpath on the south side, the first half belongs to CRT, the rest is owned by Gap House. The long path from the main dam belongs to CRT and has had permissive status for many years. I suggested that the south path should also have permissive status for simplicity rather than trying to achieve full PROW definitive status.
CRT agreed that permissive status is the easiest and simplest option. GA will pursue this solution with Cheshire East, Rights of Way Office.
Post Meeting:  CE Rights of Way Office have explained the permissive process which seems extremely simple and straightforward compared with the procedures for a definitive PROW. An owner can unilaterally define a permissive path on his/her own land simply by defining the route with occasional small permissive path notices available from the RoW Office. The owners have further options within the permissive status which don’t need to be detailed here.
So if both owners do agree to permissive status there seems to be a very simple solution to ratifying the unofficial footpath .
Listed Status of the Weir.
CRT suggested that the weir structure might be a ‘listed structure’.  If so this would presumably complicate the planning and add more delays and complexity.
CRT agreed to check the status of the structure.
Maintenance and Ownership of the Footbridge.
Maintenance and Ownership are linked and they are currently the most difficult issues that we have to resolve before the bridge can even be ordered let alone installed. These were discussed at length.
Current position.
The bridge is to last for a long time, at least 50 years.
WE will have to fund the purchase cost of the bridge and installation either directly or indirectly by seeking external funds.
There are two footbridge suppliers who will manufacture the bridge to a very high standard using FSC certified West African hardwood which requires no material maintenance (like painting or treating.) The structure will be assembled using stainless steel bolts and pins, the wood will not shrink nor will the bolts rust.
CRT has virtually no experience of this West African hardwood in structures and are therefore sceptical about claims of ‘no material and structural maintenance’
GA will ask both bridge manufacturers to provide a list of their existing bridges made out of African hardwood as evidence for long structural maintenance free life, which we and the CRT can inspect. 
The Ideal and Best Option.
With such evidence we might persuade CRT that the bridge will not require any significant material and structural maintenance during its life. In that respect it will be fundamentally different from most bridges that they currently own.
CRT might then agree to accept ownership of the bridge. This would be very logical because the bridge will be connecting two CRT permitted paths and will be located on existing CRT structures and land. It would be very complicated to have any other owner in this situation.
A local Society, Council or Councils would agree to fund the cost of the bridge safety inspection (every 3 years) and annual attention to sweep leaves and clear mud from the footway slots. This would be a modest ongoing cost. Private benefactors might also contribute to this fund by legacy. Perhaps the WB Amenity Society (or a similar Society) might agree to manage the fund and any volunteer effort for cleaning and care.
Pedestrian users would be warned by notices  ‘Use at Own Risk, CRT accept no liability’
Other ownership options are possible but are much more complicated both administratively and legally.
Planning Permission.
CRT advised us that Planning Permission must be obtained to erect a footbridge on a CRT structure on CRT land.
GA will investigate this with Cheshire East Planning Dept.
 Post meeting: Enquiries so far have not found any planning officers who have handled planning permission applications for pedestrian footbridges on private land, but enquires will continue.

We had a friendly and constructive meeting and have made reasonable progress. It is fair to say that the CRT do support the proposal with some enthusiasm and have indicated that they might help with some site preparation tasks for the repositioned bridge placement on the piers. But there are several important and diverse tasks ahead, as this record shows. Maintenance and Ownership are the biggest problems. We are now much clearer about the CRT position, but we cannot make firm decisions or agreements yet without more investigation and responses from other Authorities and the potential bridge manufacturers.
2 Letters of Support.
The project will benefit greatly from possession of letters of support from MPs, Community Authorities, Councils and particularly Walking Clubs and Footpath Preservation Societies.  We had a short meeting with Mr Andrew Bingham MP (arranged by Vic Whittle) to describe the footbridge project both as a memorial to David Frith and a much needed community asset and to request his support. He showed great interest and has kindly indicated this in a Letter of Support and wishes to be kept informed of our progress. The WB Town Council, the WB Amenity Society and the enthusiastic and very knowledgeable John Pritchard have all produced useful and persuasive letters. 
A file of such letters will strengthen our case in any future hurdles with the different Authorities since letters from organisations speak for all the members in an affiliated sense.
Local Walking Clubs and Footpath Preservation Societies were enthusiastic when the proposal was first made. May I now request their support expressed in letters in terms of the safety, usefulness and predictability of the bridge in expanding the local footpath network which gets used by walkers from both near and far.
Letters of support are most useful if they are addressed generally:  To whom it may concern.
3  Circular Walk around the Reservoir.
For many years there has been a local ambition to develop paths from the main dam on the south side of the reservoir to provide a scenic circular route.  Obviously when the footbridge is installed and the unofficial footpath is formalised as a permissive path one of the major problems for the circular route will have been solved. All that would remain would be to negotiate permissive status for some new paths that branch from FP24 down to the margins of the reservoir and then the route would be complete.
 However the first task is to install the bridge !

Graham Aldred                                                                                                29 August 2016 

The following update was received from Graham Aldred on 3rd July 2016.
 To the Friends of the Memorial Footbridge and all Supporters!
You may be wondering about the latest position.  Well basically there has been no significant progress  due to the failure of the Canal & River Trust (CRT) to reply to my letter requesting a simple committment. So I have decided to circulate my latest email letter to the Manager which explains it all in detail. The delay is now 14 weeks, weeks all lost when so much could have been done on many fronts
We are completely in the hands of the CRT which appears to have no delegated structure to make minor decisions, every decision great or small is made by one man (who is currently on holiday).  It is a great pity that the support for such a worthy recreational asset for Whaley Bridge and the wider local community is not forthcoming from the CRT particularly as the CRT are not going to provide any funding or practical assistance to the Project.
Best wishes,
PS I have hidden all your email addresses for privacy reasons and because large open address lists attract hackers and spammers.
If you do not want to receive these updates please let me know and I willremove your address from the list.
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2016 10:03 AM
Subject: The proposed memorial footbridge at Whaley Bridge.
Dear Mr Baldaccino,
                                                        Re: The proposed memorial footbridge at Whaley Bridge.
I am very disappointed that the CRT have not responded to my letter of the 28th March, nor to my follow up email of 21 April .
It is now 13 weeks since my letter. This failure to reply to a simple request for a quarter of a year is not an operational practice that the CRT can take any pride in. Indeed if I was auditing the operational processes of the CRT this would indicate a major structural deficiency where there is no delegation of authority to staff to make minor decisions. In addition communications are difficult with the CRT. There is only one general email address and one general telephone number both of which are for all the CRT enquiries and business in the region.
A review of your single reply to the initial proposal (2 March) shows no evidence of support or enthusiasm for this project which happens to be well within the remit of the recreational objects of the CRT, a registered Charity. My request on the 28th March simply asks if I can prepare and submit a professionally engineered design for a footbridge.  If you agree the CRT will subequently have the opportunity to review and be satisfied that the particular design meets all the CRT requirements. But I cannot provide the design until the CRT have agreed in principle that a footbridge can be installed and placed as described in my letter of 28th March and this is what I have been waiting for for 13 weeks.
You have said that this project will take a long time. Well it certainly will and the delays will caused by the CRT’s failure to respond in a timely manner. Since the initial proposal, half a year has passed without any useful response from the CRT to my relatively simple requests. There are now many people in the local and wider community who support this proposal for a much needed footbridge regardless of whether it is a memorial or not and this reflects a strong incentive to make progress.
Perhaps if you are unable to respond to my letters without more discussion, may I suggest that we should meet and look at the project together. I would be glad to do that at any time and would fit in with your timetable. We need to be able to cooperate in order to provide this footbridge.
Your sincerely,

Friends of the Memorial Footbridge,
Please find attached a progress report regarding the Footbridge at the Todd Brook Reservoir. I hope you will find it interesting, It shows how we have to get several threads running in parallel in order to install the bridge within our lifetime. I am confident that we have found one of the best footbridge manufacturers in the country, our problems lie in the delays caused by the very slow response from the Canal & River Trust even to simple requests.
Best wishes to All,

The David Frith Memorial Footbridge Proposal...Update No 2

This is the fine arched footbridge over the River Noearched footbridge over the River Noe at the head of the Edale
Valley near Barber Booth. This footbridge could be an inspiration for the Memorial Bridge at the Todd Brook. Ithas a similar span
The Canal and River Trust.
The CRT eventually replied eight weeks after the proposal was made. The good news is that the CRT is cautiously ‘satisfied that technically something could be done’. However they state that they cannot provide any funding, will not take responsibility for the maintenance, will not provide any assistance in making applications to other Authorities for their consent, will not dedicate any staff to the project,incredibly they are also concerned about the increase in footpath usage leading to the weir.
They will want to approve the design and construction of the bridge technically and they will
want to see a long term bridge maintenance plan. So I think it is fair to suggest that overall the CRT is luke warm to this proposal, which is a pity when you consider that David Frith, with typical dedication,  served that organisation for over 10 years when it was called British Waterways. There is no evidence of enthusiasm or support for even the non financial aspects of the project itself which is disappointing since the CRT is a registered Charity with several major objectives in its Constitution regarding footpath development and greater access for the general public to the property in their custody
It was evident that no CRT engineer has seriously assessed the proposed placement of the bridge and may not have even visited the weir. Consequently I decided to take on that role myself and specify the most stringent conditions to be met if I were the CRT Engineering Manager. I believe that the CRT will have two issues:
1) The foot bridge must not impede the deployment of the blocking planks.
2) The footbridge mounting must not require modifiction of the safety rails. If it does then the
significant cost must be met by the Project and the CRT would demand employment of an
expensive CRT approved contractor.
In my reply of 28 March to the CRT I have provided three drawings with measurements
that indicate that there is only ONE position for the bridge that meets these requirements. So this is progress, first we have established that masonry piers actually exist which would adequately support the bridge, now we know that there is only one position for the bridge to be placed to the nearest inch.
It is now up to the CRT. Our whole Project is stuck waiting for their response to this simple question  regarding placement. This is the reply from the CRT that we require:
“ Yes go ahead and produce a design for the footbridge using this position because it satisfies
any conditions that we(CRT) can think of. As stated previously the CRT will subsequently assess and approve the bridge design and the proposed maintenance plan” If the CRT says
anything else then our worthy memorial project to David Frith will be terminated.
However the CRT is not alone, there are other Agencies/Bodies whose single disapproval could equally kill the project as the following paragraphs will describe.incredibly they are also
concerned about the increase in footpath usage leading to the weir. They will want to approve the design and construction of the bridge technically and they will want to see a long term bridge maintenance plan. So I think it is fair to suggest that overall the CRT is luke warm to this proposal, which is a pity when you consider that David Frith , with typical dedication, served that organisation for over 10 years when it was called British Waterways. There is no evidence of enthusiasm or support for even the non financial aspects of the project itself which is disappointing since the CRT is a registered Charity with several major objectives in its Constitution regarding footpath development and greater access for the general publicto the property in their custody

3 The South Bank Footpath.
I have acquired property boundary maps (Attached) which reveal that the unofficial footpath which has been used historically for many years to climb the bank to join FP 24 is in two fragments. As the maps show it crosses land owned by the CRT by the river and then ascends the bank to reach land owned by Gap House. It is a requirement of the Highways Agency that
there is agreement by the  Owners that the status of these fragments will be formalised as a Public Right of Way to allow the bridge project to proceed

The footpaths are south of the Todd near the weir which is in Cheshire.I have received helpful and prompt advice from Cheshire East Highways Agency (who is responsible for footpaths etc). The overall process is as follows quoting from HA emails:-
In terms of the legal process to dedicate a Public Right of Way, that is a relatively straightforward process involving the landowner(s) signing an agreement with the Council(s) to add the path to the Definitive Map and Statement, the legal record. The basic process is: landowners agree, consultation is undertaken with local parish councils and Ward members, a decision is taken by the Public Rights of Way Committee of the Borough Council, the creation agreement is signed and advertised. The Committee needs to be convinced that the addition of the path will benefit residents and that any additional costs involved will either be minimal, or can be covered by landowners or external bodies’ commitments. Initially we’d tend to get verbal and then written agreement to a dedication in principle first, before drawing up any legal agreements. These would need input from the Council’s legal department. And that happens only when and if the Rights of Way Committee, have made the decision to enter into the agreements. In the past I understand the HA would have taken on the maintenance
responsibility for both footpath and footbridge but not any more due to funding cuts. I have already identified what is needed at river level in previous documents (some ground decking) so this is not unexpected. I assumed such improvements could be installed by a small informal working party. As for the rest of the unofficial footpath above the river it is a typical slippery muddy single way footpath quite indistinguishable in this respect from the many hundreds of miles offootpaths that I use each year. There are no stiles, fences , hedges or obstructions which would otherwise be the landowner’s responsibility to maintain. I have written to the owners of Gap House and the CRT (Estates ) with the information describing the
Proposal, requesting that they consider giving consent in principle to Creation Agreements for their fragment of footpath. If either of these Owners do not consent then the Memorial Footbridge Project is terminated.Two different arms of the CRT, Structures and Estates, both have to consent. The footbridge is regarded as part of the footpath, it does not exist in its own right, and apparently no footbridge does. CRT (Estates) will presumably have the same concerns about maintenance as CRT (Structures) so it is logical that by satisfying one arm
of the CRT we can satisfy both. But until the CRT as a body make a response to my requests
the footbridge project is stuck. This wastes valuable time and these delays increase the ultimate Project costs
4  Authorities, Agencies and Owners
There are probably ELEVEN Authorities etc. from whom formal approval for this memorial
footbridge and footpath will be needed. Perhaps we may only have to satisfy some of them
rigorously in order to gain approval from others. The eleven are :
Two arms of CRT,(Structures and Estates): Owners of Gap House: Highways Agency (Cheshire East) : Peak District National Park: Cheshire East (County, Borough, Parish): and possibly Derbyshire (County, Borough, Town). Having examined the Country boundary on various maps I believe that the project is entirely located in Cheshire. This will ease the administrative burden by removing the Derbyshire Authorities but it will not diminish the value of the strong support for the Project from the Whaley Bridge Town Council and the many local residents of Whaley Bridgee..
The Memorial Footbridge.
At the outset I had hoped that we could erect a footbridge that was not only useful and functional as a footpath asset but was also attractive in its particular setting on the weir. It is important to capture the strong feelings of respect and love that the wide Community of friends has for David Frith and his generous life. A bridge with  single span (28ft) is substantial, it has to meet many standards, so it will be quite costly even in its basic functional state, but I wondered how much more it would cost to make it attractive.
To get some idea of costs I needed to find out how these bridges are constructed so in February I surveyed several footbridges of similar span in this area, and measured two in detail. A typical local walker’s foot bridge has a narrow footway of about 2ft. It has splayed handrails (an attractive feature) for extra width at our hips! The footway may rest on timber or U section steel or RSJ steel beams. The wood was a mixture of European hard and soft wood. All bridges I found are flat with one splendid exception where, at Barber Booth in the Edale valley, a very attractive arched footbridge spans the River Noe (see photo).
We have the opportunity to install a similar bridge. All the bridges I examined are in a neglected state with no evidence of any of the easy routine maintenance and repairs that could prolong their life, particularly like clearing earth and debris from the vital mountings on the river bank or treating the wood with preservative. However if such treatment had been carried out it would be a considerably expensive task. To be effective with 100% cover of the wood it would require scaffolding erected from river level or hung down from the bridge itself. There would have to be some serious sheeting to prevent poisoning the river with spillage of preservative. This would rightly open a can of eels with Wildlife agencies and Nature Conservationists.
Consequently with all this evidence, even before the reply from CRT( discussed above), I decided that lifetime maintenance was a big issue and it must be considered to be part of the inherent design not something that was thought about after the bridge was built. We cannot rely on any Agency or Trust or County Authority to maintain our fine bridge because they just don’t do it on minor walkers’ footbridges even although they  are responsible for maintenance. At that stage in 5 February I did not have a solution to the major problem of long term maintenance but one came in March. In regard of material costs I found that two 30 ft. hardwood timbers delivered would cost about £2500 plus vat. One option might have been to design the bridge
ourselves and put the work out to various jobbing shops but that would be a completely unmanageable disaster for many obvious reasons. CRT and HA would not accept such a plan because it would have no engineering credibility in their eyes
. Even before the CRT requirements, it was obvious to me that we needed a professional
company that would design, manufacture and install the whole bridge. There is no other choice and this will inevitably define the cost but it will certainly ensure the success of the project.
Although I had browsed the internet in search of footbridge makers I had dismissed one company because I thought that they only made large (but splendid) footbridges. Fortunately I did revisit the Sarum Hardwood Structures (SHS) website again and this has provided the core of positive encouragement for this report.
Advantages of choosing SHS.
Company Record
SHS are the market leader in hardwood engineered structures. It was established in 1984 and in 32 years they have designed, manufactured and installed many hundreds of custom bridges of all sizes for pedestrian, equestrian and vehicle use together with broad walks, jetties and related structures throughout the UK. Based in Hampshire this Company has earned a
formidable reputation for delivering high quality structures which meet the many British and European standards for Design, Manufacture, Safety, Environment and Maintenance, all of which must be met to enable our Memorial Footbridge to be built.
A long maintenance free life is designed into the footbridge by choosing tropical hardwood which will not rot or decay and by using stainless steel bolts, pins and brackets. Holes are drilled exactly under factory conditions using fixtures and presses. Assembly is
proved in the factory before delivery. SHS provides an end to end service of Design, Manufacture, Delivery and Installation. I will be astounded if the CRT or the HA or anybody could find any issues with the quality of an SHS structure. I have found SHS to be very responsive and helpful considering that our footbridge is a very small and tentative project compared with the major costly but well resourced structures that SHS typically produce.
May I urge any reader who wants to know more about SHS to visit
. The website gives illustrations of the wide range of bridges with various options for overall style ( flat, bow or arch) and various handrail parapet types which SHS have installed around the UK.
Exact Drawings
In order to build the Footbridge we must be able to submit an exact detailed design to the CRT
which meets every CRT requirement for their formal approval. This has to happen before we can place an order with a manufacturer. The bridge of this size has to be manufactured and installed professionally by a Company with proven expertise and the CRT will expect that. The process is as follows. We produce a draft specification defining the dimensions, style, appearance plus all the requirements of Other Agencies as we understand them. This will be sent to SHS requesting that they produce a set of CAD drawings with design calculations that exactly specify the bridge to be manufactured. The SHS detail design together with the reputation and professional record of SHS will be assessed by CRT and this should lead to formal design approval. This is a serious milestone because CRT’s approval totally commits the CRT to the design as documented and thus allows us ‘The Project’ to place a binding order with SHS for which we must pay. The CRT cannot withdraw their approval for the bridge installation.
Ekki Hardwood
(Lophira alata)
This is the key to the future maintenance issue required by CRT and HA. SHS use a very high density tropical hardwood known as Ekki which is sourced from West Africa, it is one of Africa’s most durable woods. It is used in marine construction and in many other industrial structures in harsh environments, it will not rot or decay, it does not require any preservative
treatment. In fact it is impossible to impregnate it! This timber has huge strength and bending resistance so two relatively small section beams will, with some elegance, be very capable of supporting the 28ft. single span. But the major asset of this timber is its complete resistance to decay or rot. Therefore the footbridge will have a very long life and will be virtually maintenance free. This meets our aspiration for a 50 year life. There will be no requirement to coat the entire surface of the bridge with preservative every three or four years and therefore no requirement to catch all the polluting spillage and drips before they go into the river. All that will be required is that the Custodians of the bridge should sweep the footway once a year to clear any mud or leaves.
All the defects observed in the bridges I have studied can be attributed to the poor initial choice of timber, which required periodic preservative treatment but never received it, woeful neglect of clearing earth and leaves from the bearing surfaces on the river banks, narrow gaps between planks  on the footway that get blocked which then prevent drainage and finally corrosion and rot caused by using ordinary steel bolts and screws (even nails !) which rust in wood and destroy the efficacy of the union. All these factors will be eliminated in the design, manufacture and installation of our footbridge that is why SHS must be our supplier.
Bridge Ownership.
In the times before funding cuts the Highways Agencies would have purchased a footbridge (perhaps part funded by a gift from other private sources) from the supplier. The HA would become the Owner and would take on responsibility for its maintenance as part of the footpath that it served. Currently both the HA or the CRT are not willing to own the Footbridge, I think their most serious concern is that they cannot fund thepotential maintenance. But given that the Memorial Footbridge will not require the maintenance that most other bridges require,(but sadly don’t appear to receive) it is conceivable that the HA might accept Ownership as the logical legality but without any costly implications. If not then we will have to establish a small Trust as the ‘Designated Owner’.

Website Publicity Project supporters in the Furness Vale Local History Society where David often gave talks have made space on their website to store all our documents.
Via various links this has given wide publicity to the existence of the project to many who might have known David but never found out about the Memorial Footbridge. Links have been posted to the History Society Face book page as well as to the "Whaley Matters" and "Growing up in Whaley Bridge"Facebook groups. These have a combined potential readership of over 2000.

1) The CRT has not ruled out use of the piers for the bridge. However once again we are waiting for a response from the CRT to agree the precise placement of the bridge as shown in my drawings. If they do not agree there will be no bridge and the Project is terminated.
2) We need the consent of two parties, CRT and Owners of Gap House, to the raising of Creation  Agreements for the unofficial footpath. If either party declines there will be no bridge.
3) We have established a good working relationship with Sarum Hardwood Structures Ltd.
as the favoured engineering supplier for our footbridge. This will provide us with choices to specify an aesthetically attractive design appropriate for a memorial footbridge and, vitally, will enable us to progress the approval process prior to manufacture and to meet all the requirements of the CRT and the HA.
4) If we can get conditional but binding agreements on 1) and 2) we can then make progress and request professional drawings and a design specification from SHS and a specific estimate of cost.
5) It is very probable that the entire project is located in Cheshire, none of it is in Derbyshire
although maps and opinions vary as where exactly, to within one foot, the County border crosses the North Pier. However the project is (probably) all located in the Peak District National Park because that flows into East Cheshire on the South Bank
6) Of course there are some other problems ahead(!) which I am addressing in parallel...... but first things first
Reasonable progressperhaps for the first 20 days, although time has been lost due to the CRT
very slow response
With my regards, G


4 Sheardhall Avenue.

31 December 2015

David Baldaccino
Waterway Manager
Canal & River Trust
Manchester & Pennine Waterway

Dear Sir

Please find attached a proposal for a new footbridge for your consideration. The proposed location involves structures that are under your jurisdiction and so your initial reaction is fundamental. If that is favourable we can then produce more detailed drawings for a potential bridge design.

There is a strong case for this footbridge in its own right from both practical and safety considerations but its erection would provide the opportunity to commemorate the life and service of David Truth, a man well known, well respected and loved by many local people from Longendale to Bakewell. Some colleagues in your organisation may remember David because he managed the Combs and Toddbrook reservoirs for 10 years when he worked for British Waterways.

I hope you will be able to support this proposal at least in principle so that we can bring it to implementation in a timely way. The masonry structure at the head of the Reservoir is eminently suitable for a footbridge by providing two equal height piers for a doorway.

If it would be helpful I could meet your engineers at the site to discuss the proposal and its implications.

Yours faithfully

Graham Aldred


Proposal for a Memorial Footbridge at Whaley Bridge


 This proposal seeks approval and support for the construction of a new footbridge and footpath extension between Whaley Bridge and Kettleshulme. This document is addressed to the Canal & River Trust, with copies to the Whaley Bridge Town Council and the Kettleshulme Parish Council. Copies at this early stage are sent for information only to footpath societies, PNFS, LGFPS, WBSS and other potentially interested individuals. Nothing can proceed until approval in principle is obtained from the Canal & River Trust and this will determine whether more effort and discussion can be put into the details of the project.

 It is accepted that support of the outline proposal from the Canal & River Trust would not imply a commitment to funding. Funding is not the immediate issue. Approval in principle, feasibility and design options will necessarily precede costing estimates and potential funding sources.

The Specific Footpath.

 There is an attractive lakeside level footpath going westwards on the north side of the Toddbrook Reservoir at Whaley Bridge. In fact this permissive footpath is a legacy from the construction of the reservoir. However it formally terminates beneath Scar Wood at the weir where the intake to the canalised Todd Brook is made. A flight of stone steps leads to a flat area with safety rails above the weir itself which I will later refer to as the north pier.
Water does not always flow down the waterfall to feed the reservoir because it can be fed from the Todd Brook further down stream. There is a short vertical ladder recently mounted in the stonework of the north pier which allows safe access to the weir head for the water authority maintenance operations. However this ladder and its rusted predecessor have perennially been used by intrepid walkers and families of all ages to get to water level to cross the brook at low water or dry times. Once across a somewhat waterlogged but well used unofficial path leads to footpath WB 24 and arrives at Kishfield Bridge. From Kishfield Bridge there are many routes onwards to Kettleshulme and Lyme Handley and beyond. This proposal when implemented would provide the most friendly, attractive, safe and predictable route between the two villages. It would reinstate a former footpath, following the Todd Brook, which would certainly have existed historically, before the valley was flooded when the reservoir was constructed in the 1830s.

The Case for the Footbridge.

 Currently there are two basic footpath routes to Kishfield Bridge from Whaley Bridge, one below Walker Brow and the other via Start Lane, both of which are circuitous, both require considerable un-necessary ascents, use of pavement paths through suburban housing, and crossing the busy Macclesfield road or dodging traffic on the narrow Start Lane. Although the proposed direct valley footpath would complement these existing routes it is in fact superior. It would start in the Park at centre of Whaley Bridge and would be arguably the most pleasant safe traffic free option for walkers and strollers and therefore a valuable asset to both villages. This new central route would enable numerous circular walks both long and short to be devised with confidence and safety. To achieve this a footbridge is required. Some minor ground work would also be needed to make the current unofficial path into a safer less waterlogged route which would connect into footpath WB24 and thus reach Kishfield Bridge. Importantly, permission would have to be sought at the outset from the current owners of the south bank next to the weir to grant formal permissive status to the current unofficial path. It is worth noting that this proposal would exploit the considerable improvements of footbridges, ground decking and steps which were made a few years ago at the start of WB5 and WB24 at Kishfield Bridge (PNFS 246) by which some notorious boggy ground there has been avoided.

Toddbrook Reservoir Map Details

 The proposed footbridge would be sited approximately just above the letter ’r’ in the word ‘Weir’ (at bottom left.) Footpath WB24 is the green path that passes through the word ‘weir’. It is about 80-100ft. above the weir. The permissive path on the north side of the reservoir which terminates at the weir is shown as a black dotted line.


 It is customary in the Pennine area to commemorate a dear or much respected person’s life and memory in a very practical and useful way by erecting a new sign post or way marker. However it is quite rare to be able to propose a much needed footbridge for this purpose and, in addition, to be able to suggest such an appropriate and relevant memorial to the life of a generous much loved man. The devastating and premature death of David Frith provides this sad opportunity to associate David’s name and life with a fine new footbridge located just within Whaley Bridge Parish Boundary at a place that David knew so well.

 As Water Bailiff for ten years David managed the water supply from both the Todd Brook and Combs Reservoirs to provide sufficient water for the Peak Forest Canal to sustain the operation of the Marple Locks. The family lived at Todd Brook Cottage by the side of the main Dam with a long view over the reservoir towards the head where the bridge will be erected. David would have walked up the path to the Weir hundreds of times to manage to water flow and inspect the water system for blockages and leaks.
A founder member of the LGFPS 40 years ago, a lifelong member of PNFS, the founder of the WBSS, a former member of the Kinder Mountain Rescue Team , these are just some of David’s walking credentials. He worked quietly and tirelessly for preservation of and access to footpaths both locally in the High Peak and in the Longdendale area and was always ready to support of the wider walking fraternity with his knowledge of paths, public access and historic precedent. One of the last conversations I had with David in hospital was about the unpredictability of this route due to water flow at the weir.
David had an exceptional knowledge of local history both industrial and rural so was able to give considered advice to various planning bodies and footpath officers, including the WB Town Council over many years. His contribution was recognised only this year (2015) with a Community Award.

 Members of many local clubs and societies will recall David’s excellent and interesting illustrated talks on a variety of historical topics. Sadly I know that he had hoped to produce more of these during his recent retirement. The first of these is called ‘The Bridges of Whaley Bridge’ and in this we were entertained to a commentary, anecdotes and a survey with photographs of every bridge with public access within the Whaley Bridge Parish. There are in fact an amazing seventy four bridges.

 So it is particularly fitting that David’s local life in Whaley Bridge should be commemorated by a bridge, because like a bridge he reached out to everyone, reliable, patient, positive, modest about all his achievements. When it is built it will become bridge number 75 in the Frith List. It is very sad that this bridge will be a bridge just too far for David, but what a fitting epitaph and memorial to his generous life. It may be known formally as ‘The David Frith Footbridge’, his friends might simply call it ‘David’s Bridge’, in future, when we are all gone, it may simply be known as ‘Frith’s Bridge’. Somehow I think David would like that name most of all.

Footbridge Location Options

I have carried out a preliminary survey above the waterfall at the weir in order to consider where the bridge might be placed. I have cleared the undergrowth and small trees on the overgrown pier on the south side of the weir in order to assess the potential of the pier to mount the foot bridge on that side. I also cleared the small trees and brambles etc along the length of the south pier to consider a new potential higher (dry) route up to WB24. This would be feasible but it needs further consideration. The south pier itself is a very strong robust structure, I doubt if few have ventured on it in the last 185 years. It is stone faced on the upstream side and it was designed as an integral part of the weir by providing a partial dam to guide and control the flow of the Todd Brook both over the weir and into the Toddbrook intake.

Option A.

 The easiest and narrowest span would be achieved by founding the footbridge on the existing side piers of the weir, which are of equal height above water level. This would place the footway about 4 ft. above the flagged stream bed. Reservoir maintenance operations might very occasionally need more headroom which, if so, could easily be provided by mounting the bridge appropriately higher. The span of the waterway between walls is 8m (26 ft.). This is an accurate measurement derived from the blocking planks stored on the north pier. The safety rails on the North pier would have to be modified slightly to suit the access to the footbridge. If the potential dry route from the south pier to WB24 (mentioned above) is not feasible then three or four steps would be needed to descend from the south pier to allow walkers to reach the current unofficial path (to be improved) which goes on to join WB 24.

Option B .

 It would be possible to place a bridge diagonally across the brook starting at pier level. This is much more complicated, the required span is much longer; perhaps 35 to 40 ft. and there are no existing foundations for at least two piers, one mid stream. Finding a safe foundation for a new mid stream pier in a lagoon which has collected silt for nearly 200 years could be disproportionately costly.

Option C.

 It might be possible to cross the brook at right angles with a shorter span some distance upstream from the weir at some narrow point. This would require a new short path going upstream on the steep north side in order to reach the bridge and then an appropriate connecting path to the unofficial path. It would also require two piers to be built on boggy ground. Such an option, like option B, suffers from considerable difficulties of access for heavy and cumbersome materials during construction. Permission would be needed for the access path to the bridge on the north side which is private land, with possibly a different owner than on the south side.

Option D.

This is included for completeness but there are serious concerns. The river could be crossed with a sequence of stepping stones, some keyed to the existing concrete and flags of the weir head. But there are many negatives. One problem is that short gaps (for safety) will lead to clogging by river debris, the step stones themselves will impede the throat of the weir, causing higher water levels to occur at the stepping stones, so they need to be higher. Stepping stones are fundamentally less safe than a footbridge, because they can be very slippery and of course there is no safety hand rail. They would have to be constructed in situ out of some special waterproof concrete.


 The most practical option with the least implementation and cost risks is clearly Option A. Only in Option A do the necessary strong and robust piers for founding the footbridge exist already. These are a major and fundamental asset. The safety of the footbridge is paramount and the stability of the piers is fundamental. If use of the existing piers can be provisionally approved then further design details for the structural span and its superstructure of footway and integral handrails can be produced.
Issues of groundwork required to make the connecting path on the south side more pleasant and less waterlogged apply to all options but least of all to option A, for which a potential dry route with a short zig zag path could be constructed. These are all relatively minor issues, common to many of our footpaths in this district which can easily be solved by a dedicated volunteer group after the footbridge is installed.

Access to the proposed site for construction.

 This can only be from Reservoir Road, at the overflow near the main dam. Fortunately the legacy from the 1835 construction provides a reasonably wide level lakeside track leading to the weir. This should be quite suitable for a small groundwork tractor with trailer to bring materials and parts to the site. If option A is accepted then very few building materials will be required because the piers already exist, only the major bridge span components will need to be transported.

Design Considerations.

 A span of 26 ft across the water would require at least another 2 ft. at each side to bear on the piers. So the span members would be approximately 30ft. long. If transport and handling of long beams was considered to be a problem, modular structural beams could be used so that the sub sections would then be bolted together on site. A wooden structure would probably be the cheapest solution but perhaps not the most cost effective in the long term. This is a peaceful place so it is desirable to blend the bridge with the surroundings, neutral colour and a quiet footway.

Graham Aldred December 30 2015


The proposed Memorial FootBridge at ToddBrook……….

Update No 1.


This update includes a series of photographs which complement the main proposal  1 Jan 2016 and which will hopefully show off the site particularly for those who may never have visited the head of Reservoir. Unfortunately the photographs were taken in poor winter afternoon light and are not of the best quality but they do serve the practical purpose and you might just enjoy some pictures to
illustrate the proposal. !

Further Work.

 Since the original proposal I have done some more ‘surveying’ and a lot of digging and clearing as I hope the photos show. In particular I have dug out sufficient of the earth and undergrowth that has covered the South Pier Head for many years to expose the masonary  in order to convince myself and to demonstrate to others that the South Pier would be suitable.  Well, I am very encouraged, the South Pier is in good order and we can now see how easy it will be to span the brook  from pier to pier.

Canal and River Trust.

 No response yet from the CRT except that they have acknowledged receipt of the proposal and say it will take them ‘some time’ to consider it.

General Response.

 Elsewhere the proposal has been well received, appreciated and supported by many individuals and
members of several FootPath Societies in the area. Not only because this will be a much appreciated footbridge for practical reasons but also because it will be a very appropriate memorial to David Frith who was held in great regard by so many people and walking clubs in the area.

Next Steps.

 In parallel I have been examining various footbridges in the district in order to produce some practical detail designs which will meet current safety standards and CRT approval. Handling the large structural members at the reservoir is an interesting factor. In the next update I will draft a few designs. I am contacting ‘long timber’ suppliers for estimates of material and handling costs.


 This update is circulated to the CRT, WB Town Council, Kettleshulme Parish Council, PNFS, LGFPS, WBSS, New Mills Ramblers and individuals in the Friends of the Memorial Footbridge Project.

Graham Aldred                  31 January 2016

01663 762415 

Showing the steps to the North Pier. 

The weir in full flow, the South Pier is on the RHS is not very distinct. It is covered in undergrowth.
Photo taken in early January

Looking towards the South Pier which is totally hidden and covered in undergrowth. 

The substantial construction is the revealed in the photos on the next page.
The three aluminium posts protruding from the stream bed provide slots for the blocking planks used in maintenance operations, they are 4m. apart. The span of the footbridge would runapproximately above them.
The famous ladder on the North Pier is relatively new. The 3.5 ft. ascent from the stream bed used to be disproportionately difficult. You had to rely on one rusty bolt for a foot hold and no handholds. Although this ladder is only provided for very occasional maintenance access, you can see that the paint has been worn off the rungs (showing white) from frequent use by walkers and joggers. This indicates how popular, safe and useful a footbridge would be especially as the water flow over the weir is unpredictable both in time and depth. A foot bridge would make the onward route availableto more cautious walkers and strollers who currently dare not risk the water and slippery base stones beneath (and prefer dry feet). The footbridge will simply rationalise the status quo.

The lost south pier looking south along its length before clearance and excavation. 

The Lost Pier of Toddbrook…….Exposed ! (1).
Revealed here partially exposed after I did some heavy excavation.  The massive stone blocks for the wall and the cap stones are in good order ready to provide a platform to receive the span of the new footbridge.

The Lost Pier of Toddbrook (2).

This shows how and where the span of the footbridge would bear on this pier. Clearly this is a very substantial structure which as I expected matches the North Pier and is eminently suitable to support a foot bridge. The pier extends to the right for about 40 feet into the bank with the heavy masonry wall and capping stones shown here almost certainly extended along its length. The purpose of the south pier is to provide a partial dam to guide the brook to the weir and intake. There are two options for the onward route of the footpath after crossing the new foot bridge.

Option 1.

Three/four steps would be provided to get down to river level from the pier on the side facing the camera and then join the existing waterside path that ascends to WB24. The first part of this route is about one foot above stream level and is notoriously boggy.  The reason for this is that the weir dam inhibits the flow of the otherwise lively Toddbrook and has caused a very boggy flood plane to form which the path has to cross. This is exacerbated by natural drainage streams from the high south banks which have been diverted by the dam and forced to run into the flood plane bog with very little escape.
We have to live with this and there are standard solutions, we will be able to provide raised duckboards in one or two of the worst places and dig out some drainage channels which might alleviate some of the problems. This is the most practical option to choose initially whilst the main
focus is kept on designing and installing the footbridge.

Option 2.

 This is more ambitious but a really attractive possibility.  We could route a new footpath along the full length of the pier, which is completely dry and almost certainly paved along its length. It would not be actually necessary to expose the paving, (although we might), the main asset would be a wide dry path. From the inner end of the pier at the bank a route could be constructed to circumnavigate
the boggy flood plane at a higher dry level contouring round to connect with the current path as it rises away from the bog. This would require some steps and some excavation, possibly a zig zag path. However this is not the current problem, I will do some more surveying, first we must get the Foot Bridge !

This is the brook just before it heads for the weir or into the channel. The ToddBrook is very sluggish
here because the height of the weir has reduced the natural fall. The flood plane boggy area is to the left where light coloured grass is, the current path to Kishfield Bridge follows the stream for about 100 yds and it can also be seen on the left of the photo between the brook (more properly a river!) and the light coloured grass . Option 1 would try to improve the worst boggy parts of this current path. Option 2 would track higher on a contour on the left hand (south) bank in the photo.

The Toddbrook runs free!

The onwards stream is regulated at the intake valve underneath the North Pier, it then emerges and follows the man made channel that runs by the side of the reservoir path all the way down to the main dam above the Park where it then drops about 80-90 feet down the steep spillway behind the sailing club to join the River Goyt. Before the reservoir was built there would have been a fine
natural waterfall at least the equal of the other Toddbrook waterfall located half a mile upstream from the weir at the Candlewick Mill. The Reservoir builders would have exploited this natural feature and built the weir and its piers on top of the exposed rocks of the waterfall.  

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