I like to think of myself as an optimist, but some people leave me in the dust in the optimisms stakes.
On Saturday we took Grace to the Foxton Locks Festival. She had a great time because a large percentage of the entertainment was for kids. Fairground rides, bouncy castle slide, pets corner and all that stuff. There was a sizeable craft fair too. Lots of people were there and I dare say that the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust made a few bob out of it.
What the trust wants to do of course is to restore the old inclined plane, abandoned in 1928, so that it can lift boats, sideways in a rolling tank, up and down the steep hill. It should look something like this.
Scary stuff if you ask me! You can see the currently operating staircase locks and their side ponds in the background.
Well after spending a £3m lottery grant it now looks like this:
In at the top
Down the plane (or what is left of the old concrete foundations)
and out at the bottom.
Er, still a bit to do then.
Don’t get me wrong. I can well imagine how much work it has taken to get this far. The place used to be overgrown with trees, the bottom arm had no landing stage, the top arm was derelict, and they have spent a fair bit on creating the excellent on site museum. What worries me is that (if I have understood the documents correctly) they are looking for another £11m to finish the job. I don’t know about you but if it has cost £3m to get this far, is another £11m going to be enough to rebuild the tracks and the machinery and all that? The way costs usually escalate in these schemes, I reckon they’ll need a great deal more..
Everybody these days seems to be looking for another Falkirk Wheel (that cost £17.5 m by the way). Is this the one? Can they do it?
Only an idiot would say yes. But then, only an idiot like Tom Rolt thought that England’s derelict canal network in the 1940s could be restored, and here we are cruising about on it. Idiots all over the country are bringing bits of waterway back to life.
I think I wish them well, although personally speaking, I just love going up the staircase locks.