Danger fears over quarry

Miracle Godson
Miracle Godson

Villagers fear it will only be a matter of time before a notorious water-filled quarry claims another life.

Gangs of teenagers and young adults, spurred on by the ongoing heatwave, have again been found trespassing to enjoy illegal dips at the Appley Bridge death trap.

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Residents, who have been met with a barrage of abuse from the intruders, are alarmed that it could lead to another death, young rugby player Miracle Godson having lost his life there in 2015 while playing with friends.

One parent has been blasted for turning up near the site with youngsters wearing swimming costumes and asking for directions.

Police have been urged to step up patrols in and around the quarry, which is privately-owned.

And firefighters have repeated warnings to steer clear of open-air sites, amid the dangers of freezing cold waters crippling inexperienced swimmers.

Neighbours have established a new Facebook collective, Appley Bridge Quarry Community Group, in response to the latest influx of visitors from across the north-west.

A spokesman said: “People ask for directions and then they get abusive when you refuse to help. My seven-year-old son was targeted because he wouldn’t tell them where they needed to go.”

Residents are deeply unhappy that cars have blocked up Appley Lane North and swimmers have been caught clambering through neighbouring gardens.

“We just feel like something hideous is going to happen and not enough is being done to stop it,” added the spokesman.

Campaigners have praised local police community support officer Andy Holderness for his efforts in trying to “move on” groups of swimmers.

But they also insist extra resources should be deployed to dissuade any new arrivals, as there are a number of potential routes to the water.

Coun Pam Baybutts, who represents the Wrightington ward on West Lancs Council, said that the quarry’s owner regularly repaired damage to surrounding fencing.

“When parents are bringing their children to swim in the quarry then it beggars belief, when you consider what happened there three years ago,” she added.

Three men died in drowning incidents, after swimming in reservoirs in Bolton and Gorton in early June, and Greater Manchester firefighters were called out to deal with an incident in Radcliffe over the weekend, when two teenagers were spotted swimming in the River Irwell.

Paul Etches, the fire service’s head of prevention, said: “I would urge people to be very careful around water and not to swim in open water – doing so is risking your life and potentially the life of others.

“Water can be tempting, especially in the warm weather but there are so many risks. Reservoirs and lakes are incredibly dangerous and hide many tricky and unknown hazards like rocks, shopping trolleys and broken bottles.

“These are huge bodies of deep, open water and the temperature rarely rises above 12°C. This is cold enough to cause shock and increased breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly making it impossible to swim to safety – even for the strongest of swimmers.”

Neighbourhood police in West Lancs were unavailable for comment as the Wigan Post went to press.