A FIERCE storm wreaked havoc on a 200-year-old canal, causing problems for Runcorn boaters.

The Trent and Mersey Canal breached its banks at Dutton on Wednesday, after days of relentless heavy rain.

The Canal and River Trust, formerly British Waterways, is investigating the cause of the breach, which left a massive rift in the hillside bank and deposited lakes of water, complete with live fish, in the farmer’s fields.

David Baldacchino, waterways manager for the Canal and River Trust, said the trust was warned there could be a problem with the bank the day before.

Engineers worked until midnight to isolate a stretch of canal and minimise the damage.

A dam was put in at Bartington Wharf and stop planks erected at Lodge Lane canal bridge, in Dutton.

Mr Baldacchino said: “We expect and aim to reopen in time for spring next year.

“It’s a big repair to do, at a difficult time of year and it’s difficult to get here and bring specialist kit in.”

He estimates it will cost the trust, which is a charity, more than £1million to repair.