Trafford heroes announced for canal project

Michael Hunt

Three notable people from Trafford have been chosen to be immortalised in steel for a new piece of public art known as a Portrait Bench.

The £8m project is being promoted by the Bridgewater Canal Trust, a partnership comprising seven local authorities including Wigan, Salford, Trafford, Manchester, Cheshire East, Warrington and Halton, along with the canal owners the Peel Group, with support from a range of partnership funders.

The public art will be included in the two mile Sale to Stretford section of the Bridgewater Way.

In March, the public were asked to nominate any notable person from Trafford or anyone who has a link with Trafford, whether they are historical figures, famous faces or local heroes within our community.

The three nominated includes:

  • William (Bill) Bleasdale – A founder member of the Watch House Cruising Club, whose club house is on the Connect2 stretch of the Bridgewater Canal. In his early life he became a stable boy and jockey. Later, he was based in Egypt in the army where he became a captain of the veterinary core looking after the welfare of horses. He passed away in 2008
  • Dr Charles White – Local doctor and co-founder of the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was born in 1728, the only son of Thomas White, a surgeon and midwife, and his wife Rosamond. He started as an apprentice in his father's practice before studying medicine in London and then completing his studies in Edinburgh. He then returned to his father's practice as a surgeon and midwife. Their practice is located on the south west corner of Sale Priory and both Thomas White and Dr Charles White gave the popular name to Whites Bridge over the Bridgewater Canal
  • Darren Campbell – Olympic Gold medallist and a member of Sale Harriers since he was 18 years old. Born and raised on the Sale Racecourse Estate of Manchester, he won four Gold and two Silver medals at International Championships during 1991 to 1992 at junior level. His first Olympic success was in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where he won Silver in the 200m. Four years later, in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, he won Gold as part of the 4x100m relay team. He was awarded an MBE in 2005 for his services to the sport and announced his retirement shortly after the 2006 European Championships. He remains an ambassador of the sport through a number of roles, including his involvement in Street Athletics and the Youth Sport Trust

Peel said that Portrait Bench is an art initiative from sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, which will soon be appearing all over the UK on newly created routes for pedestrians and cyclists as part of the Connect2 project. Each bench aims to be unique to each community with nearly 80 installed across the UK by 2013.

This UK wide project from Sustrans is a £142m scheme which won £50m from the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks: The People's Millions as a result of a public vote televised on ITV1 in December 2007.

The stretch between Sale and Stretford is part of 12 miles of work in Trafford which will extend north of Stretford towards the Trafford Centre. Peel said that when the project is complete it will attract over half a million visitors a year.

Louise Morrissey, director of Land and Planning at Peel, said: "We'd like to thank the people of Trafford for nominating their Trafford heroes. It is great that three people with different backgrounds have been chosen to be part of this wonderful work of art which everyone will be able to enjoy."

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No contest – Mr. Bleasdale – genuine local canal connection & the others have already had their names in lights.

By Paul Howard