News, Outdoor

Inadequate lighting blamed for canal death

The Bridgewater Canal at dusk with, inset, 22-year-old Caspar Blackburn who drowned in October.

THE INADEQUATE illumination of a canal tow path has been blamed for the tragic death of a 22-year-old man in Sale, Manchester.

Caspar Blackburn, who worked as an assistant retail manager, drowned in the Bridgewater Canal in the town in October last year. This week a coroner blamed the ‘poor lighting’ at the site, saying it was likely Caspar, who was returning from a night out with friends, fell into the water accidentally. The lighting of the stretch of the canal where the tragedy occurred was ‘poor’ and it is difficult to see the edge of the water at night.
However, Coroner Rachel Galloway, recording her official conclusion at Stockport Coroner’s Court, said that the exact reason how Caspar ended up the water ‘will remain unknown’ because there were no CCTV cameras at the site.

The coroner recorded what’s termed a ‘narrative verdict’ where the circumstances are outlined but the cause cannot be stated with certainty. Ms Galloway told the court: ‘Caspar died from the recognised complications of accidentally entering the canal contributed by very poor lighting’.

‘Another explanation is that he stumbled and fell into the canal. I do find it was likely an accidental cause in this case.

‘The reasonable explanation is that he has stumbled, or he might have walked in. It was very dark.

‘I accept Caspar was a strong and fit young man. The problem in this case is that he would not have expected the water and he likely inhaled the water shortly before he drowned.’

Ms Galloway said she would write to the local authority, Trafford council and the Canal and River Trust, recommending that they install better lighting alongside this stretch of the canal.


  • Outdoor illumination will be explored in the Safer Cities conference taking place at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition at London ExCeL on Wednesday 14b November and Thursday 15 November 2018. More information HERE.



Main pic: Rich Grundy via Flickr Media Commons 2017. Pic of Caspar Blackburn released by the family 2017.