Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Peak Forest, Macclesfield and Leeds and Liverpool locks re-open 6th July

The Canal and River Trust has announced that locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Peak Forest Canal and Macclesfield Canal will be fully open from Monday 6th July.

At present all the lock flights from Wigan to Bingley and at Marple and Bosley are closed, with navigation only being possible along the pounds between lock flights.

These lock flights will only be open at the following times:

Leeds and Liverpool Lock Flights between Wigan and Bingley - daily.
• Wigan: top & bottom locks open 8.30 - 10.00 am for entry to flight only; 12.30 - 2.00 pm for exit from flight only.
• Bingley 5 Rise: 10.00 am - 12.30 pm for passage UP only; 1.30 - 4.00 pm for passage DOWN only.
• Johnson's Hillock, Greenberfield, Bank Newton, Gargrave: open 10.00 am to 5.00 pm with last entry 4.00 pm.
• Blackburn, Barrowford: open 10.00 am to 4.00 pm with last entry 3.00 pm.

Bosley Lock Flight - Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays Only
Macclesfield Canal (Locks 1–12)
Open 9.00 am to 4.00 pm with last entry 1.00 pm.

Marple Lock Flight - Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays Only
Peak Forest Canal (Locks 1-16)

Open 8.00 am to 3.00 pm with last entry 12.00 noon.

Update, 30th June: The Leeds and Liverpool Canal locks will now open on Friday 3rd July.

These lock flights have all been closed to conserve water during the Covid-19 'lockdown' period, when boaters who do not live aboard have not been allowed to stay on their boats overnight.

Many boaters will be hoping that the re-opening of these lock flights will coincide with a relaxation of the Government's rules about staying on board boats, enabling a resumption of leisure cruising.

Update, 17th July: The restrictions on the locks at Marple and Bosley will be lifted on Monday 27th July.

Barrowford Locks, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Saturday, 6 June 2020

'Windows of Opportunity' on Peak Forest, Macclesfield and Leeds & Liverpool Canals

Lock flights at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal, Bosley on the Macclesfield Canal and lock flights between Wigan and Bingley on the Leeds and Liverpool are currently closed to conserve limited water supplies.

The Canal and River Trust has announced 'windows of opportunity' when these flights will be temporarily opened to allow boaters trapped by the closures to re-locate. These will be -

Leeds and Liverpool Lock Flights between Wigan and Bingley - Fri 12th, Sat 13th, Sun 14th June.
• Wigan: top & bottom locks open 8.30 - 10.00 am for entry to flight only; 12.30 - 2.00 pm for exit from flight only.
• Bingley 5 Rise: 10.00 am - 12.30 pm for passage UP only; 1.30 - 4.00 pm for passage DOWN only.
• Johnson's Hillock, Greenberfield, Bank Newton, Gargrave: open 10.00 am to 5.00 pm with last entry 4.00 pm.
• Blackburn, Barrowford: open 10.00 am to 4.00 pm with last entry 3.00 pm.

Bosley and Marple Lock Flights -
• Bosley Lock Flight, Macclesfield Canal (Locks 1–12)
Tuesday 16th and Thursday 25th June
Top Lock (No.1) open 8.00 am. Bottom Lock (No.12) open 8:30 am.
Last entry at 1.00 pm. Flight locked up 3:30 pm.
• Marple Lock Flight, Peak Forest Canal (Locks 1-16)
Thursday 18th and Tuesday 23rd June
Open 8.00 am. Last entry at 1.00 pm. Flight locked up 4.00 pm.

Johnsons Hillock Locks, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Monday, 27 April 2020

Leeds and Liverpool Lock Flights Closure

Lock flights between Wigan and Bingley on the Leeds and Liverpool will be closed from lunchtime on Tuesday 28th April 2020 until further notice.

Essential maintenance works at Barrowford and Whitemoor reservoirs, which supply the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, means that water levels have been kept at a lower level than normal.

Along with the continued low rainfall this means there is less water available to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for unrestricted movement through the coming months. With forecasts for further dry weather and Coronavirus related restrictions to movement already in place, the Canal and River Trust has taken the decision to protect water resources further by closing the lock flights from lunchtime on Tuesday 28th April.

The following locks will be affected:
 • Wigan Flight (Locks 65 to 85)
 • Johnsons Hillocks (58 to 64)
 • Blackburn Locks (52 to 55) - please note that Locks 56 and 57 at the bottom of the flight will remain open to allow access / winding for the services.
 • Barrowford Locks (45 to 51)
 • Greenberfield Locks (42 to 44)
 • Bank Newton Locks (36 to 41)
 • Gargrave (Holme Bridge Lock 30)
 • Bingley Five Rise Locks (25 to 29)

Lock flights will be padlocked and gates ashed up to reduce leakage. To prevent unauthorised use, locks will be made temporarily inoperable. These closures mean that CRT can reduce the feed to the canals to conserve water so that navigation can remain open for as long as possible for the rest of the year, with a few restrictions.

CRT says it is not clear how long the closures will last for but it is likely to be throughout May and perhaps longer if there is no significant, sustained rainfall.

While the closure will prevent use of the lock flights, cruising between the locks for essential purposes will remain available and the towpaths will be open for the local community to use in line with Government guidance.

CRT requests people to follow all guidance relating to Coronavirus when using the canals and towpaths until further notice. More about Coronavirus restrictions on canals here.

Bingley 5-Rise Locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Marple and Bosley Locks Closure

Marple lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal and Bosley lock flight on the Macclesfield Canal will be closed from lunchtime on Tuesday 28th April 2020 until further notice.

This follows the problems last year with the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge. To allow works to Toddbrook Reservoir to take place, water levels have been kept at a significantly reduced level.

Along with the continued low rainfall this means there is less water available to the Peak Forest / Macclesfield summit level for unrestricted movement through the coming months. With forecasts for further dry weather and Coronavirus related restrictions to movement already in place, the Canal and River Trust has consulted with boating customers and taken the decision to protect water resources further by closing the lock flights from lunchtime on Tuesday 28th April.

Both flights will be padlocked and gates ashed up to reduce leakage. To prevent unauthorised use, locks will be made temporarily inoperable. These closures mean that CRT can reduce the feed to the canals to conserve water so that navigation can remain open for as long as possible for the rest of the year, with a few restrictions.

CRT says it is not clear how long the closures will last for but it is likely to be throughout May and perhaps longer if there is no significant, sustained rainfall.

While the closure will prevent use of the lock flights, cruising between the locks for essential purposes will remain available and the towpaths will be open for the local community to use in line with Government guidance.

CRT requests people to follow all guidance relating to Coronavirus when using the canals and towpaths until further notice. More about Coronavirus restrictions on canals here.

Lock 11 on the Bosley lock flight

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Calder and Hebble 'closed for 12 months' near Dewsbury

The Calder and Hebble Navigation could be closed for as much as a year at the 'Figure of Three' locks near Dewsbury.

Following Storm Ciara, the nearby River Calder overflowed, with flood water surging into the canal pound between the two 'Figure of Three' locks. Hundreds of tonnes of silt and stones were deposited in the pound and the offside bank was completely washed away alongside the lower lock, including the lock's bywash overflow channel.
The lower lock at Figure of Three, showing where the bank and bywash have been washed away.
Photo from video by David Thompson.
Facebook users can view a video by David Thompson here, which shows the extent of the damage. The two images with this report are screenshots from the video, used with David's kind permission.
Hundreds of tonnes of silt and stones deposited in the pound between the locks.
Photo from video by David Thompson.
The Canal and River Trust is still assessing the damage so that a programme of works can be planned to bring the locks back into operation. The initial estimate is that it may take up to a period of 12 months before the canal can be re-opened. CRT will provide further updates as the extent of work needed becomes clearer.

Access to the site could be difficult for heavy vehicles and it may be necessary to construct a temporary roadway.
Aerial view of the locks, showing the path of the flood water.
Image: Google Maps. See https://goo.gl/maps/1HhaQra1aRufzHrB7
Figure of Three locks are on the long canal section between Thornhill Flood Lock and Broad Cut.

The locks were opened in 1838. Before that time the navigation had locked back down into the river just above Figure of Three locks.

Two miles downstream, the flood waters of Storm Ciara lifted a narrowboat onto the towpath near the Navigation Inn at Broad Cut.

The Calder and Hebble Navigation is vulnerable to flood problems, with the River Calder rising quickly when heavy rainfall runs off the moors. Normally the navigation's flood gates are closed and there are few problems other than the restriction to navigation. However, there have been a number of serious incidents in recent years, such as the Boxing Day flood in 2015, which left a number of boats stranded on the banks and Elland Bridge so badly damaged that it needed to be re-built.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Unplanned stoppage at Marple Locks

CRT has announced an additional stoppage on the Peak Forest Canal that is not part of their planned winter work programme.

The stoppage will mean that Marple Locks will be closed from 10th to 28th February 2020.

The stoppage is to enable repairs to be carried out to Locks 12 and 16 to reduce leakage, which is necessary important in helping to maintain water levels whilst Toddbrook Reservoir is out of use.

Lock 12 will have repairs to its headgate to help prevent loss of water. Lock 16 will have repairs to the tailgate cills to reduce leakage and make operation of the lock easier.

The head gate of Lock 12 at Marple.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Leeds and Liverpool Canal closed near Adlington

A culvert failure has closed the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Adlington and Red Rock (between Chorley and Wigan).

Culvert 126, near Arley Bridge, was due to be re-lined in January as part of this winter's programme of repairs. However, its failure now has meant a premature closure of the canal at this point.

CRT engineers are visiting the site to assess the situation and an update will be issued on Monday 21st October.

Update, 21st October:
The canal has been drained and the towpath and canal will remain closed whilst investigations surrounding the culvert failure are ongoing. Further update shortly.
Update, 22nd October:
The stoppage planned for January 2020 to re-line the canal bed over the line of the culvert has been brought forward to start now. The canal will remain closed here until 15th November

Leeds and Liverpool Canal close to the affected culvert

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Escape Day planned for Macclesfield Boaters (updated)

Boaters trapped by an emergency stoppage on the Macclesfield Canal will be given an opportunity to get through the stoppage on Wednesday 16th October between 11.00 am and 1.30 pm.

Passage through the site will be strictly controlled. To ensure a passage through the affected area, boaters should call CRT's North-West Customer Support team on 03030 404040.

There have been recurring problems of leakage from the canal embankment in the area around Clarence Mill and Bollington Aqueduct.

Stop planks have been inserted at Bridge 26 (Sugar Lane ) and Bridge 27 (Kerridge). These have enabled engineers to assess the severity of the current leak. As a result of their observations, the stop planks will remain in place and the leak repair programme planned for the Winter will be brought forward.

However, because a lot of boaters heading back to their home bases have been 'caught out' by the unexpected stoppage, the Canal and River Trust is to allow an escape window of 2.5 hours on 16th October.

This will be the only passage through the area until the embankment repair works are completed in March 2020. The alternative route is via the Trent and Mersey Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Nine, Ashton Canal and Lower Peak Forest Canal.

The repairs will include a canal bed relining scheme on a 80m section of the canal between Bridges 26 and 27 along with re-building 66m of wash wall near Clarence Mill. The navigation will be dewatered. Work is expected to be completed by 13th March 2020.

Update, 14th Oct:
The Canal and River Trust has announced that, due to an overwhelming demand and limited time available to ensure safe passage, no further requests can be accepted for passage through Bollington on 16th October.

Bollington Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal

Rochdale Nine Closure - Work now complete

The 'Rochdale Nine' lock flight on the Rochdale Canal through Manchester is currently closed awaiting repairs to Lock 86 at Canal Street.

This follows a gate failure on 25th September. As the lock is a Grade II Listed Structure it has been necessary to obtain permission to carry out work on it. CRT's Heritage team has been advising on methods of repair.

The local authority has now allowed CRT to proceed with these emergency works whilst the Listed Building application is being processed. The CRT team will make preparations by installing pumps and a fabric dam this week. Once approval has been given for work safely to take place behind the dam, CRT will issue an update on how soon the canal is likely to be re-opened.

Update, Tue 22nd Oct:
The repairs to Lock 86 are complete. The pounds are being refilled and the Rochdale Nine is expected to re-open to navigation this afternoon.
Lock 86 of the Rochdale Canal in Manchester

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Mill Fire closes Ashton Canal

Update, Fri 9th August: The fire brigade has advised CRT that they will be able to re-open the canal and towpath from tomorrow (10th August).

Original story:
The Ashton Canal has been closed between Droylsden and Ashton following a major fire at a complex of former cotton mills.

The fire, which began on the afternoon of Tuesday 6th August, burned through the night and spread to all three buildings that formed the Oxford Mills, alongside the canal.
The fire at Oxford Mills seen from the Ashton Canal. Photo: Chris Leah
 The fire brigade has ordered the closure of the canal in view of the risk of the building collapsing.

It is not yet known how long the canal will be closed. It will be until after any unstable remains of the building have been demolished.
Oxford Mills alongside the Ashton Canal.

Manchester Evening News has videos and photographs of the fire here.

A video showing the mill buildings being demolished can be seen here.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Dam failure - Peak Forest Canal latest

Navigation on the Peak Forest Canal has now re-opened after the emergency closures following the partial failure of Toddbrook Reservoir dam.

On 1st August, the risk of the dam collapsing at Whaley Bridge resulted in the closure of the lock flights at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal and Bosley on the Macclesfield Canal. As a precaution some boats have moved away from Whaley Bridge. The following day, these lock flights were re-opened but the Upper Peak Forest Canal was closed above Bridge 26 at Disley, with stop planks placed across the canal at a number of locations. These were to minimise water loss if the dam were to burst and had the subsequent torrent caused a breach of the canal around New Mills or Furness Vale.

By 7th August, water levels in the reservoir had been reduced sufficiently that there was no longer considered to be a risk of the dam collapsing. The stop planks were removed and people who had been evacuated were allowed to return.

Heavy rain in the hills around Whaley Bridge had led to water overtopping Toddbrook reservoir, immediately upstream of the town. Although this flowed down a concrete spillway designed for this purpose, the sheer volume of water undermined the concrete with sections breaking up.
The damaged spillway at Toddbrook Reservoir. (Photo: unknown source via Twitter.)

The reservoir was opened in 1838 to supply the Peak Forest Canal. The dam is constructed mainly of earth. The Canal and River Trust warned that there was a real risk of the structure failing and hundreds of residents were evacuated from the town of Whaley Bridge. Water was pumped out of the reservoir but took several days before the level was low enough to be considered no longer a risk.


Monday, 10 June 2019

Gate failure could close Rochdale Canal for weeks

A gate failure at Lock 66 on the Rochdale Canal in Failsworth may result in the lock being closed for several weeks. The incident, at Tannersfield Highest Lock, means that the whole flight of locks between New Islington and Failsworth is now shut.
The snapped mitre post at Lock 66.

The mitre post has snapped just above the water line. Initially CRT thought this was caused by boat impact but, as the lock was apparently full at the time, it is possible that the 21-year-old gate may have started to rot and weaken, with the pressure of water causing it to fail at a point where boats may have struck it in the past. It is likely that new gates will have to be made, which may take several weeks.
Dislodged and cracked anchor stone.

Of more concern is that the incident also dislodged and broke the anchor stone to which the gate was attached. It has shifted about an inch inwards toward the lock and cracks can be seen in several places. It looks likely that a new anchor stone will need to be crafted, as the existing stone may not have the structural strength to hold the gate safely in place.
Dislodged and fractured anchor stone.

Reports say that two boats had entered the full lock, the top gates closed and the crew were preparing to empty the lock when the nearside tail gate twisted, resulting in a sudden loss of water, with the boats dropping several feet. The gate has reportedly been twisting for some time, with the mitre posts not always lining up correctly. The gate originally had a wooden A-frame structure similar to the one in the photo below, but this was not reinstated when the locks were restored. The purpose of the frame was to stop gates twisting and to reduce the potential of the weight of water forcing the gates outward. (The slot in the anchor stone in the photo above was where the A-frame was positioned.)
Wooden A-frame supporting gates at Lock 8 in Hebden Bridge. Lock 66 originally had a similar frame.

An incident of a similar kind took place in 2003 at Lock 65, where a tail gate failed with two boats in the lock. In the same year tail gates also failed at Locks 25 and 30 near Walsden. The photo below, courtesy of Su and Mike Poole, shows the gate at Lock 30 after its failure.
Failed tail gate at Lock 30 in 2003. Photo: Su and Mike Poole.

The present closure of Lock 66 will inconvenience anyone planning to navigate the length of the Rochdale Canal. It is a particular problem to a number of historic boats which were returning from a rally in Hebden Bridge, and which are too long to leave the canal via the Calder and Hebble Navigation, with its shorter locks.

Update: Repairs have been completed and the lock is now open to navigation.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Marple Locks Re-opened

After being closed to navigation for 20 months (apart from a brief period last summer), Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal are once again open to navigation.
A CRT work boat tests Lock 11 after its re-building. Photo: CRT

Problems began in September 2017 when emergency reconstruction was needed at Lock 15. The lock flight was re-opened in May 2018 but, almost immediately, it became apparent that the side of Lock 11 was moving inwards. Temporary jacking wasn't successful and the operation of the lock was restricted to limited hours under CRT supervision. Problems persisted, however, and CRT had to take the decision to rebuild Lock 11.
The area Lock 11 has been landscaped after the work was completed. Photo: CRT

As a Listed structure, the work had to be carefully planned and agreed with Heritage England. The work should have been completed in March but ground instability, design changes and delays in drilling concrete piles have contributed to the work over-running.

Not a bulge in sight now at the re-built Lock 11 at Marple. Photo: CRT

A CRT work boat was used as the guinea pig to test that the lock worked correctly and the first boaters passed through the lock over the Bank Holiday weekend. This means that boaters are once again able to complete the Cheshire Ring. CRT's Tracey Jackson said that they are expecting a busy summer.
(Photos courtesy of Canal and River Trust)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Bosley Locks Closed

Bosley Locks have had to be closed to navigation after a void was discovered alongside Lock 3.

This was discovered in the course of operating the lock. There is a risk of the ground alongside the lock collapsing so the Canal and River Trust have closed the lock for investigations. They are looking at ways of allowing passage through the lock without endangering crews.

An update will be issued tomorrow.

With Marple Locks not due to re-open until 24th May, this means that the summit level of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals is temporarily cut off.

Update 11th April:
CRT has issued the following statement -
"Our Teams have managed to erect a temporary platform which has been built above the void to enable the lock to still be in use.
"The flight is now open for navigation."

Update 16th April:
The flight will be closed on Wednesday 17th April between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm to allow repairs to be carried out on Lock 3.


Lock 3, Bosley flight, Macclesfield Canal