The David Frith Memorial Bridge

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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