Upgrade plan for a Wakefield beauty spot

w6880a449 Paul Dainton concerned that changes to the height of Welbeck tip will have an effect on Stanley Ferry aquaduct.

w6880a449 Paul Dainton concerned that changes to the height of Welbeck tip will have an effect on Stanley Ferry aquaduct.

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FUNDING is needed to improve access to a world-famous aqueduct at Stanley Ferry.

An action group is determined to upgrade a single-lane road bridge and provide new paths around Stanley Ferry Aqueduct.

Members of Residents Against Toxic Scheme (RATS) say the aqueduct, built between 1836 and 1839, is being overlooked as a major tourist attraction because of poor access.

RATS president Paul Dainton said: “There are no footpaths for 200 metres either side of the bridge and it’s an impossibility for walkers, especially anybody in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. It is just not safe.

“We’d also like to see a viewing gantry so people can look at this historic monument.”

Talks have been held with Wakefield councillors, including council leader Peter Box, over the improvement plans.

Mr Dainton said two-way traffic would cut pollution because cars currently wait at the red light to cross with engines running.

He said: “This plan would open up a new tourist facility, cut down road pollution, improve the environment and make a dangerous area safe.”

The aqueduct was designed by George Leather Senior and built to take the Aire and Calder Navigation over the River Calder.

It is thought to be the largest cast-iron aqueduct in the world and is said to have inspired the design of Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mr Dainton added: “It is a brilliant feat of engineering. Bus loads of people come to see it from as far away as America.

“People often forget that Wakefield is still the capital city of West Yorkshire and it was the waterway access for wool, cotton, and coal that gave Wakefield the equivalent of today’s M62.”