A historic boat horse stable block is to be demolished at Burscough in Lancashire with concerned canal users saying they have been kept in the dark over the proposals.
The site at Burscough is of historical significance, comprising two stable blocks, harness room, warehouse, workshop, provender house, barn, office and two houses around a central yard.
The complex was built by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company in 1890 after the closure of the original horse department buildings, whenthe original canal terminus was moved back to Pall Mall.
As well as accommodating a number of the canal company's boat horses, the company's horse tackle was also made there.
The former stables to be demolished (Photo: Mike Clarke)
The buildings to be demolished are the larger of two stable blocks, which borders the main A59 road and had a workshop on its upper level, an adjoining canalside cottage and an outbuilding that has accommodated boaters' facilities. The stable block had been known to be in poor condition, possibly worsened by vibrations from the A59 running alongside.
The former stables seen from the road (Photo: Mike Clarke)
The buildings are understood to have been derelict for several years and the site was sold by BW to Thomas Guy Ltd in 2008.
It is proposed that a community facility will be built within a new three-storey building on the site of the stables and cottage. The other buildings would be re-furbished to incorporate retail uses, a micro-brewery and a restaurant.
Sue Day of the Horseboating Society wants the stable block either to be retained or, if unsound, to be re-built as before. “By retaining the building in its existing manner, people can see the way it was used.” Sue quotes an example of Stourport Basin, where one stall has been retained as a heritage interpretation area.
Although the site is no longer in the ownership of British Waterways, it is being cited as yet another example of a development that involves the loss of historic canal features. There has recently been much opposition to development proposals at Marsworth and Marple.
The developers, in their planning statement, insist that they have “consulted widely within the community”. Unfortunately this has not included the waterways community other that BW itself and BW did not publicise the proposals, with the result that waterway enthusiasts are once again feeling angry at not being involved or consulted.
Demolition of the stables and cottage is about to begin at Burscough so it may be too late for the belated protests to affect the outcome.
Diagram of Burscough Yard