Hundreds show support for damaged Grand Western Canal
Plans are being drawn-up to save part of a canal which collapsed as the Westcountry was swamped by rain – causing widespread flooding.
A massive chunk of the bank skirting the Grand Western Canal designed by John Rennie in the end of the 19th Century, fell away at the village of Halberton near Tiverton.
Such was the devastation residents had to be evacuated from twenty homes in the area.
Devon County Council bought the canal in 1971 and will have to find the money to pay for repairs – £10,000 of which will come from the sale of Exeter Airport five years ago.
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According to geologists a lot of the fallen bank can be re-used to help keep costs at a minimum.
Hundreds of residents rallied on Saturday at a public meeting at Halberton Village Hall to show their support for the popular tourist attraction, where visitors can ride on horse-drawn boats.
Ken Browse, chairman of Halberton Parish Council, said between 150 and 200 crammed into the hall.
He said: "It was important for the community to turn out and show their support for the canal.
"The canal is hugely important to the local area and is extremely popular with tourists.
"We need to work to start as soon as possible."
Robert Hodgson from the Friends of the Grand Western Canal said while it's not yet clear how much the work will cost, similar damage on the Trent and Mersey canal in September could cost £1.5 million.
He said: "It (the canal) is mid-Devon's premier tourist attraction and on any given weekend you'll have people here from all over Devon and during the summer they come from around the country."