Building a better bridge
P OSSIBLY the most depressing story in today's Sentinel concerns something which should really be a source of good news. The Bridgewater Bridge, over the Caldon Canal – and a stone's throw from the Emma Bridgewater factory – cost more than £1m when it was first opened more than three years ago. But since then, precious few of us have been able to wander across what was originally a very beautiful, gleaming glass structure. Local vandals and the ravages of Potteries weather have seen to that. Invited guests and luminaries at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2009 were told that the bridge didn't just link land between Bucknall New Road and Botteslow Street with Hanley – it linked the whole area to the future. Oh dear! How terribly prophetic those words may have turned out to be. Just as most of the very pretty, proposed canalside housing has not been built (yet?), so the bridge has been closed since vandals smashed much of its elaborate glass panelling. Even when these panels were replaced with steel parapets the bridge stayed closed because of drainage problems. Now the city council fears it will have to spend a further £220,000 (yes, two hundred and twenty thousand pounds) repairing the bridge, to bring it back into regular use.
I T really is sad that something so iconic, which was unveiled with such great hope for the future, should now end up in such a sorry state. However, the powers that be must not give in. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be defeated by yobs (or wet weather). Let's re-pave the walkway and get rid of the rust; install new railings and repair the panelling. Let's resurrect our Bridgewater Bridge – and make is as popular as the revamped Victorian pottery factory from which it took its name. Let's see if it really can lead the area to a better future.