TWO sections of the Chester Walls have been closed to the public after fears they could collapse.
A section on the outcrop which meets the Walls at the Roman Gardens has come loose, and another section at the Recorder Steps near the Old Dee Bridge has begun to crumble, which has led Cheshire West and Chester Council to close the sections due to safety concerns.
The council has closed both entrances as a safety precaution and has undertaken invesitgations with 3D laser scanners into why the sections have begun to fall away.
Council spokesman, Shirley Wingfield, said: “The Groves entrance to the Roman Gardens has been closed as a safety precaution after a recent inspection highlighted areas of loose rock on the outcrop, below the City Walls, immediately above the path into the Roman Gardens. The closure does not affect the City Walls.
“The Recorder Steps have also been closed as a safety precaution after a recent inspection highlighted signs of recent movement.
“A 3D laser scan has been undertaken on both sites. At the Roman Gardens this has been used to create drawings of the rock outcrop and at the steps the survey has been undertaken and drawings of the staircase have been produced from this scan. These drawings have been used by a geotechnical engineer who has recently undertaken a survey of the rock outcrop. We are currently awaiting a report to confirm the condition of this section.
“The drawings for the steps will be used by the council’s term highways contractor to provide a propping system to support the steps in order to allow the staircase to be re-opened until a permanent repair can be arranged.
“Once we have the reports we will then be able to choose the most appropriate method of repair to secure the re-opening of both sites. Until we know the scale of the repairs we cannot indicate the duration of the works.
“The propping design is progressing at present; once these are complete we will then be in a position to confirm a date for the propping to be installed and ultimately indicate a re-opening date for the staircase.”
Ed Abrams, of the Chester Civil War Tours and a long-standing campaigner for the restoration of Prince Rupert’s Trench, on Parkgate Road, said the Walls were so important to the city, they should be practically paved with gold. He said: “The lack of investment in the gem that is the City Walls has been verging on criminal.
“Nearly three million people a year come and walk on the walls – they should be paved in gold practically.
“It is not just money however. It is also about everyone in the city understanding we have this jewel and we have to realise what we have because if we do not then that will have more of a detrimental effect on trade and tourism in the city. They are unique within the country.
“People need to use them, people need to love them and people need to protect them.”
Peter Carrington, of the Chester Archaeological Society, said from time to time parts of the Walls will collapse. He said: “Obviously the City Walls have been built and rebuilt over hundreds of years and likewise bits have always been falling down.
“This is a risk which is always with us. It is a sheduled monument and the council has a responibility for his and I’m sure they will be taking advice to see why it is falling down and looking at the best way of repairing it.”