Campaigners have achieved a major victory after barriers were placed next to a canal where a teenager was found dead.

The body of University of Manchester student Charlie Pope was discovered in the Rochdale Canal in Manchester city centre on March 2, last year, after disappearing on a night out.

The 19-year-old's death put canal safety under the spotlight and triggered a petition for barriers to be placed along the city's waterways.

More than 97,000 people have signed a petition since Charlie's death, after his heartbroken father Nick Pope launched the #makecharliethelast campaign.

Nick, from Northumberland, attended a meeting in Manchester last year to discuss the preliminary findings of an independent safety report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, representatives from the city's universities and night-time economy and members of Manchester's Water Safety Partnership were also present.

Charlie Pope

An independent review was commissioned by the water safety partnership, which proposed a host of recommendations after confirming there had been 28 water-related deaths in the city centre zone since 2007.

Plans for fencing around the stretch of canal where Charlie died near Lock 89 were submitted to Manchester council earlier this year. Now they have been installed.


Four months after Charlie's death, Orlando Nyero, 19, from Bolton, drowned in the same canal. His body was recovered near Lock 90, off Whitworth Street.

In a statement, issued after an inquest into Orlando's death, his family said they believed 'sufficient lighting' should be introduced across the city centre canal network, particularly at stretches near 'nightlife areas', and called for increased signage and barriers.

Charlie's death sparked a water safety campaign

Alona Ainsworth, from Salford, who launched the campaign in the aftermath of Charlie's death, posted on site: "After a long campaign and a lot of hard work I am delighted to announce that barriers have finally been put up alongside the canal where Charlie and Orlando lost their lives.

The canal just off Whitworth Street. Inset from top: Orlando Nyero and Charlie Pope
The canal just off Whitworth Street. Inset from top: Orlando Nyero and Charlie Pope

"Nick Pope has worked tirelessly to try and prevent any further canal tragedies and has raised a huge amount of awareness in regards to water safety. I would like to thank each and every one of you that have signed this petition and made this possible."

Finance director Nick, who was at the forefront of fighting for change, believes it's a 'remarkable' achievement.

Nick Pope, father of Charlie who drowned in the canal, leads a protest looking to make the canalways safer.

He said: "When you look back, what does seem remarkable is how much we have achieved.

"The petition grew very quickly and it's probably more than we could have hoped for when we started out.

"People should be very proud, they can say we made a difference. We can change things for the better

"From a personal perspective, we're just pleased and proud we have honoured Charlie.

"Hopefully we have made a change that will prevent further deaths. If that's the case, that's a fantastic outcome."