Don’t let there be a repeat of Robbie’s canal death

Photo Ian Robinson'Mary Hirst who is concerned about the safety of the gas pipes over the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Gannow
Photo Ian Robinson'Mary Hirst who is concerned about the safety of the gas pipes over the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Gannow

A terrible accident which claimed the life of Burnley boy Robbie Williamson could be repeated if safety work to a canal bridge is not completed.

The stark warning came from grandmother Mrs Mary Hirst (64) who says a gas pipe under another bridge just yards from the fatal accident spot along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Gannow is too accessible to children.

Robbie Williamson (11) who died after falling into the canal in Burnley (s)

Robbie Williamson (11) who died after falling into the canal in Burnley (s)

Friends and family were left devastated in April when popular Shuttleworth College pupil Robbie (11) died after falling from a pipe while playing with friends on a canal bridge.

But Mrs Hirst says a similar pipe on the next bridge along is also dangerous.

She said: “I was walking with my granddaughter and dog along the canal recently when I spotted a big black pipe running across the next bridge, which was totally accessible to children.

“All of Burnley remembers the terrible tragedy of Robbie’s death, the entire community was devastated and it changed a family’s life forever.

“I felt so angry when I walked just several yards from the accident to find there was another pipe more accessible to a child with no protection whatsoever. It is absolutely diabolical.”

Following Robbie’s death in April, the National Grid carried out safety work on the pipe, but Mrs Hirst says every bridge along the canal should now be inspected.

She added: “Children are the next generation. They look to us as an example for guidance, reassurance and safety. We have to protect them.”

Hundreds of mourners packed into All Saints with St John the Baptist Church, Habergham, for Robbbie’s funeral.