A coroner has ordered canal bosses to take urgent action at a footbridge where a “fit” 68-year-old man suffered a fatal fall.

The Canal and River Trust was given 56 days to respond to coroner Rob Turnbull’s demand.

Mr Turnbull, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: “I will be preparing a report to those responsible for the steps to inspect them and make repairs where appropriate and also to deal with the lighting.”

He praised the people who had dashed to help Ian Martin – who had slipped and hit his head on a stone step – especially the first on the scene, Oliver Hanlon, who had acted “commendably”.

Mr Turnbull was told how Mr Martin was found at the bottom of the steps in Gas Street, on Tuesday, January 9, by Mr Hanlon, a builder, as he returned home to Skipton.

It appeared Mr Martin had slipped and fallen when crossing from Skipton Bus Station to meet his wife, Jane, at the nearby Tesco supermarket.

In a statement, she told Mr Turnbull Ian had sent her a text saying he was on the bus from their home in Home Croft, Threshfield.

They met regularly on Thursdays to visit either Marks & Spencer or Tesco and have tea together.

Mrs Martin learned of her husband’s accident from a police officer who found his telephone and made contact with the last number.

She told Mr Turnbull: “When people realised what had happened to Ian, I got a number of people telling me they were worried about the steps and ‘didn’t go near them’ when it was wet and icy.”

And Mr Hanlon said since the accident he had seen another elderly person slip and fall on the steps.

After the hearing, Mrs Martin, who works at the Listening for Life Centre at Bradford Royal Infirmary, said her husband was a very fit, active and agile 68-year-old who loved life and had plans for the future.

“What happened to Ian was dreadful, “ she said.

“He did not die because he was 68.

“This could happen to anyone who uses this steps and I don’t want it to happen to anybody else.

“I’ve looked at the steps since and they are of different depths and they are bowed in the middle.”

She thanked Mr Hanlon, those from the Venue pub who helped at the scene, staff at Airedale Hospital and Skipton Police.

Her husband was a retired teacher who in recent years had done part-time work at Thorpe Arch prison and Broomfield special school in Leeds.

More recently he had become an enthusiastic photographer, completing a course at Craven College.

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust confirmed the footbridge was its responsibility.

“We haven’t yet received a copy of the coroner’s report, but as soon as we have we’ll consider the findings carefully and take appropriate action,” he added.