Landmark celebrates historic work of waterways volunteers
On Sunday 19th October 2008 one of the Stoke on Trent’s newest landmarks was named “Osborn Bridge” to celebrate the work of two North Staffordshire volunteers who were at the heart of helping to save the city’s historic waterways heritage and enabling thousands to enjoy our canals.
“Osborn Bridge” celebrates the work of Pat & Millie Osborn, indefatigable fund-raisers and waterway volunteers. Pat and Millie Osborn met while actively serving in the Royal Navy and the Women’s Royal Naval Service during World War II; after demob Pat and Millie married and settled in Stoke on Trent. As members of IWA Stoke on Trent branch, Stoke on Trent Boat Club, and the Trent & Mersey Canal Society they were instrumental in campaigns to re-open Harecastle Tunnel, save Anderton Boat Lift, replace Trent & Mersey Canal mileposts and commission a statue of James Brindley at Etruria.
Nationally Pat and Millie practically supported the restoration work of the Waterway Recovery Group, including the rebuilding of several locks on the Montgomery Canal, and the staging of innumerable canal events and IWA National Waterways Festivals.
In North Staffordshire many thousands of children have experienced and continue to enjoy the local waterways aboard a boat of The Beatrice Charity, thanks to Pat and Millie’s tireless fund-raising, tenacity and maritime skills that instigated and guided this Caldon Canal based organisation.
Family and friends gathered at Stoke Road canal bridge over the Trent and Mersey Canal, with VIP guests arriving aboard narrow boat “Beatrice”. Bridge name plates and an interpretation panel outlining Pat and Millie’s work were unveiled.
The idea of the celebratory bridge naming was conceived and brought to fruition by volunteers of the four organisations named on the panel; they would like to thank the following for their permissions and enabling of this project: Stoke-on-Trent City Council planning team, the Highways Agency, OPTIMA Infrastructure Management and British Waterways.
A copy of the Osborn Bridge Interpretation Panel, which features a collage of images representing some of the work done by Pat and Mille Osborn may be downloaded here (PDF 1.19 Mb.)