Pennine Waterways News

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

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Burnley Reopening Delayed

The closure of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Finsley Gate in Burnley is to be extended until May.

The Canal and River Trust has announced that the canal will not re-open in Burnley until Wednesday 8th May.

The Trust says that, once the canal was dewatered, it was discovered the amount of silt along the affected area was far greater than expected. The silt was tested and found to be contaminated, which means special measures have to be taken to remove it and dispose of it safely, causing significant delays to the project.

It was also found that the retaining wall was in a much worse condition than originally thought. This, too, has resulted in additional works.

CRT says that their contractors are doing everything they can to complete this project as soon as possible but will not be in a position to re-open the navigation until 8th May 2019. The Trust sincerely apologises for the inconvenience this may cause.

The stoppage at Finsley Gate was to enable canal relining works, work to the towpath retaining wall and offside soft bank protection.

Finsley Gate on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Burnley.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Marple Locks Reopening Delayed

Another setback has been announced for boaters wishing to use the Peak Forest Canal.
Trouble-hit Marple Locks are now to remain closed until the end of May.

The Canal and River Trust has revealed that rebuilding work at Lock 11 in Marple is a few weeks behind schedule. It is now planned to re-open the canal to boats at the end of Friday 24th May 2019.

It had originally been planned to re-open the locks in mid-March,. Engineers say they encountered delays in the piling phase of the works, with ground drilling and the installation of reinforced concrete piles behind the existing lock walls proving slower than expected. Some design changes were also needed due to site constraints. The piling is now complete and the ground stable so that the failed lock walls can now be carefully dismantled.

The re-building of the lock walls back to the correct alignment is complex and time consuming, as construction has to comply with heritage requirements, with Lock 11 being a Grade II Listed structure.

Lock 11 has been closed since July 2018 because the sides were moving slowly inward. It had been open on a restricted basis for only a few weeks after the lock flight had been closed from September 2017 because of serious subsidence at Lock 15.

These extended stoppages have affected boaters intending to navigate the Cheshire Ring.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Leeds and Liverpool lock restrictions lifted

The restricted opening times of lock flights on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Wigan and Gargrave are being lifted from Friday 21st December. The Canal and River Trust has announced that reservoir levels have improved.

However, to help ensure that water remains available around Wigan, some overnight closures will be in place. Locks 88 (Pagefield) and 89 (Ell Meadow) will be opened at 8.00 am and locked at 3.00 pm daily. These locks will be padlocked outside of those hours.

Update 21st December:
Following a severe act of vandalism at Blackburn Top Lock, the Blackburn lock flight (52 - 57) will be opened at 10.00 am and locked at 3.00 pm daily with last entry onto the flight at 2.00 pm. Blackburn lock flight will be padlocked outside of those hours.

Ell Meadow Lock, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Leeds and Liverpool lock flights to close again

The Canal and River Trust has announced that the lock flights on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be closed again from 26th November because of 'below average rainfall'.

The lock flights affected are from Wigan (Lock 85) to Holme Lock, Gargrave (Lock 30). These closures are necessary because of the limited water resources currently available and to reduce the risk of the reservoirs not refilling in time for the start of the main boating season next year.

However, CRT intends to offer 'windows of opportunity' for boats to move, with the locks being open for navigation each Saturday. Opening times are yet to be announced. Please re-visit this page for updates. If there is sufficient demand CRT will consider additional days.

These restrictions are expected to last until at least the New Year.

Boaters should be aware that the canal is now closed to navigation at Finsley Gate in Burnley until March.

Update 20th November:
The lock flights between Gargrave and Wigan will be open for navigation only at the following times:

Gargrave flight (Lock 30 Holme Bridge to Lock 35 Stegneck Lock) - Saturdays 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, last entry to flight 2.00 pm

Bank Newton flight (Lock 36 to Lock 41) - Saturdays Saturdays 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, last entry to flight 2.00 pm

Greenberfield flight (Lock 42 to Lock 44) - Saturdays Saturdays 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, last entry to flight 2.00 pm

flight (Lock 45 to Lock 51) - Saturdays Saturdays 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, last entry to flight 2.00 pm

Blackburn flight - no restrictions

Johnson's Hillock flight - no restrictions

Wigan flight - Thursdays 8.30 am to 3.00 pm, last entry to flight 10.00 am

No booking is required, but boaters are asked to check all gates and paddles are closed after use and to share locks where possible.

Assistance on the Wigan flight is available to single handed boaters or crews of two people where one cannot assist with lock work for health reasons. This can be booked by calling 03030 404040 and asking to speak with the North-West office. This service available on Thursdays subject to availability.

The canal remains closed to navigation at Burnley until March.

Lock 73 on the Wigan flight

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Wigan Locks to re-open

Wigan lock flight (Locks 65 to 85) on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be open to navigation again from Tuesday 23rd October.

The lock flight was closed in July, along with many of the other lock flights on the canal, because of the seriously low water levels in the reservoirs following a prolonged dry spell. The other lock flights were re-opened by the end of September. However the Canal and River Trust had taken the opportunity to move forward some of the maintenance work scheduled for the coming winter. As the reservoir levels had improved faster than expected, the repairs on the Wigan flight had not yet been completed. Work will be carried out over the weekend to speed up the re-opening and repairs are expected to be completed by 4.00 pm on Monday 22nd October ready for boat passages to start again the following morning.

Bringing the repairs forward means that Wigan lock flight will not be closed for repairs over the winter months. However, boaters should note that the canal will be closed at Burnley from 12th November until March.

Wigan Top Lock, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Friday, 28 September 2018

Leeds and Liverpool Canal to re-open except Wigan flight

The lock flights on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Gargrave and Johnson's Hillock are to re-open on 29th September. Reservoir levels have improved following recent periods of rain, allowing the locks to be opened on a restricted basis.

The following lock flight will be open between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm each day. Last entry to each flight will be at:
• Gargrave Locks - 3.00 pm
• Bank Newton Locks - 3.00 pm
• Greenberfield Locks - 3.00 pm
• Barrowford Locks - 2.30 pm
Boaters arriving at the locks after that time will need to wait until the next morning.
There will be no time restrictions on Blackburn or Johnson's Hillock lock flights.

Wigan Lock flight will remain closed as repairs to Locks 73, 81 and 85 are still under way. The completion date for these stoppage works is Monday 22nd October, which was the date by which it had been expected that water levels would recover. In the event, reservoir levels have recovered faster than anticipated following recent storms. However, the completion of these works means that the Wigan flight should be open for navigation throughout the winter period.

From 12th November the canal will be closed for work at Finsley Gate in Burnley (until March) and at Poolstock Locks and Plank Lane on the Leigh Branch (until December). There will also be a stoppage on the Rufford Branch (until December).

Lock 56 in Blackburn

Bosley Locks to re-open

The Bosley flight on the Macclesfield Canal is to re-open on 6th October. Reservoir levels have improved following recent periods of rain, allowing the locks to be opened on a restricted basis.

Bosley Locks will be open at 8.00 am each day, with last entry onto the flight being at 1.00 pm. Boaters arriving at the locks after that time will need to wait until the next morning. These restrictions will be reviewed after the first week.

Bosley Locks will then close again on 5th November to allow work on Locks 8 and 12 to be completed.

Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal will remain closed until repairs at Lock 11 have been completed.

Lock 2 at Bosley

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Leeds and Liverpool to remain closed between Wigan and Gargrave

The Canal and River Trust has announced that the lock flights between Lock 85 (Wigan) and Lock 30 (Holme) on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are to remain closed until at least the end of October, possibly later if there is no significant and prolonged rainfall over the coming weeks.

The canal's reservoir holdings are still extremely low. At least 5 weeks of prolonged rainfall would be required before the locks can be re-opened for navigation.

The lock flights at Wigan (locks 65 to 85), Johnsons Hillocks (58 to 64), Blackburn Flight (locks 52 to 57), Barrowford Locks (45 to 51), Greenberfield Locks (42 to 44), Bank Newton Locks (36 to 41) and Gargrave (locks 35 to 30) are padlocked closed and the gates have been ashed up to reduce leakage. To prevent unauthorised use, measures have been taken to make the locks inoperable.

Whilst the canal has been closed CRT has been taking advantage of the closure to carry out work to remedy issues on the locks, including paddle repairs, vegetation clearance, pointing works, and leakage repairs on the gates. CRT is bringing forward the winter works planned for Locks 43, 73, 81 and 85, with this work taking place during September while the lock flight remains closed.

An update will be issued at the end of September.

Holme Bridge Lock (30), near Gargrave

Friday, 10 August 2018

East side of Leeds and Liverpool to close

Following the worsening situation with falling reservoir levels, the locks on the east side of the Leeds and Liverpool are to be closed from Friday 17th August.

The navigation closure affects all locks between Skipton and Leeds. The main lock flights, i.e. Bingley Five Rise, Bingley Three Rise, Field Locks, Newlay Locks and Forge Locks will be padlocked closed, with the gates ashed to prevent leakage.

The Canal and River Trust says that "measures will be taken to make all locks inoperable" to prevent unauthorised use (e.g. by someone breaking the padlocks).

The Canal and River Trust says that it is not known how long the closure will last for but that it’s likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. The towpath will remain open.

Update - 29th August:
The Canal and River Trust is to re-open the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Newlay Top Lock and Holme Lock, below Garsgrave at 10.00 am on Friday 31st August.
This means boats will then be able to navigate between Skipton, Bingley, Shipley and Apperley Bridge.
Passage through Bingley Five and Three Rise lock flights will be down between 10.00 am and 12.00 noon and up between 1.00 and 3.00 pm.

The locks will remain closed between Leeds and Newlay and between Garsgrave and Wigan.

Update - 4th September:
The locks between Leeds and Newlay will re-open on Wednesday 5th September.
Passage through Newlay, Forge and Kirkstall locks will be down between 10.00 am and 12.00 noon and up between 1.00 and 3.00 pm.