Pennine Waterways News

Friday, 26 February 2010

Hold-up on Aire and Calder

Traffic on the Wakefield branch of the Aire and Calder has been interrupted by a stoppage at Birkwood Lock, near Stanley Ferry.

According to BW, the sluice mechanisms are not operating correctly and passage through the lock is not possible.

BW is sourcing the materials needed for the repair and work is scheduled to begin on Tueasday 2nd March. It is hoped that the lock can re-open on Wednesday 3rd March.

Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 0113 2816800.

Birkwood Lock

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Peak Forest Stoppage for Aqueduct Work

The Lower Peak Forest Canal is to be closed at Romiley for the first two weeks of March.

This is to allow the canal to be dewatered at Hatherlow Aqueduct, just south of Holehouse Fold Bridge, where the main road crosses the canal in Romiley.

Hatherlow Aqueduct crosses the narrow Green Lane and BW will be investigating leakage from the aqueduct. Remedial work such as grouting the aqueduct's structure and relining the canal with more puddling clay will be carried out if needed.

The stoppage is from 1st March to 15th March 2010.

Hatherlow Aqueduct, Romiley

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Standedge Fleet takes a trip to Liverpool

The entire Standedge Tunnel fleet took off on a journey to Liverpool last week!

The three electric tugs and two passenger boats headed westward through the tunnel and down the Diggle lock flight to Wool Road, Dobcross. Here they were craned out onto four waiting lorries with extendible trailers to travel by road to Liverpool.

The nine-year old vessels will undergo repairs and maintenance, including some plating work to the hulls.

The convoy is expected to return to Tunnel End in time for the start of the 2010 Standedge Tunnel season on March 20th.

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One of the passenger vessels is lowered onto a waiting truck.

Leaving the Wool Road car park.

One of the tugs is lifted out of the water.

Another tug leaves the water.

Two of the tugs are put onto one trailer. The third had a trailer to itself.

Rochdale Nine Stoppage Extended

The present stoppage on the Rochdale Nine locks in Manchester is to be extended by two weeks.

The stoppage for the installation of lock ladders was delayed by poor weather in January. It was scheduled to end on 12th March but will not now be completed until 26th March.

This is a further blow to boaters who had wanted to start moving earlier in March, as stoppages on many of the other canals in the region have also been extended to 26th January.

Tunnel Lock on the Rochdale Nine in Manchester

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Hard-surfacing the Rochdale Towpath

Work is underway to give the entire length of the Rochdale Canal's towing path a hard surface. Following concerns expressed by canal users, a "consultation" is to take place in the form of a site meeting.

This will take place on Saturday 20th February from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm, meeting at Smithy Bridge Railway Station, between Rochdale and Littleborough. Anyone interested in the canal's towing path is invited to go along.

You will be able to to see the re-surfacing works which are currently in progress at Smithy Bridge. Representatives of Sustrans, British Waterways and Rochdale Council will be available to answer questions.

Much of the towpath between Manchester and Rochdale has already been hard-surfaced. The work causing concerns involves a stretch through Littleborough, over the Summit level to Warland. There are proposals to continue this hard-surfacing the rest of the way to Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge.

It would seem that the work is being funded with £200,000 of LEADER funding made available to Rochdale Council as long as the work takes place before the end of the financial year. This would be part of the Connect2 scheme from Sustrans, which is developing a national cycle network.

British Waterways benefits by getting the towpath resurfaced with external funding. However, other users will be worried that the better surface will encourage cyclists to ride faster.

Organisations such as the Ramblers Association, Towpath Action Group, Littleborough Civic Trust and the Horseboating Society have raised a number of concerns, such as:
• The plans are for the same surface to be used all along the canal rather than using a "palette" of different materials to suit the location.
• There should be a more suitable surface for walking, as mile upon mile of hard surfaced towpath is unpleasant and harmful due to concussion to the body and over heating of feet.
• Softer materials should be used, like crushed stone or aggregate as found in country areas on bridleways used as multiuser routes.
• Some people are opposed to the spread of urbanisation into the country. There should be town surfacing in towns and more rural surfacing as you leave town and into the country.
• If a scenic rural location like the Pennine Summit is hard surfaced with a tar spray and chip as proposed, then all the 2,500 mile canal towpath network could be treated in a similar manner.
• Towpaths would no longer paths for walking, but become cyclepaths.
• Complaints nationwide are increasing about the speed of cyclists on towpaths. Walkers feel vulnerable and report many "near misses". Smooth hard surfacing encourages and allows fast cycling. An aggregate or grassed surface slows cyclists down.

Lucy Rogers of The Waterways Trust, which owns the Rochdale Canal, says:
"Unfortunately, the timescale associated with this funding has limited the opportunity to conduct a consultation process. However, as a result of the correspondence received about the scheme, Sustrans, in partnership with Rochdale Council, British Waterways and The Waterways Trust, has arranged a site visit to the Rochdale Canal and consultation meeting for Saturday 20th February between 10am and 1pm, meeting at Smithy Bridge."

Opposition to the scheme is being led by Iain Gerrard of the Littleborough Civic Trust (email address on website).

Ironically, this scheme is taking place just before British Waterways holds a consultation in the Spring to agree on materials to be used for towpath surfacing nationally, which could include a varied "palette" of materials to suit locations.

If you have thoughts on this, you can share them by following the link below and adding a comment.

Meeting on Saturday 20th February will take this form:
10.00 am - meet Smithy Bridge Railway Station.
Walk along towpath to look at existing works and some of the route of the further hard surfacing.
11.30 am - information gathering exercise at Smithy Bridge Methodist Church.

Punchbowl Lock: Should surfacing blend in with the location?

Summit pound: Will a hard-surfaced towpath take away the rural feel?

Newlay Lock Gates Renewed

Newlay Locks on the outskirts of Leeds have just had a new set of gates fitted, as part of British Waterways' annual winter maintenance programme, at a cost of £300,000

As the Grade II Listed Newlay Locks are a three-rise lock staircase, one of several along the eastern part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, this means that there were four pairs of new gates to be craned into place!

Two of the new gates in position. (Photo: BW)
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The new gates were made at BW’s Stanley Ferry workshop near Wakefield. As well as the new gates, work at the locks includes repairs to the floor of the entrance to the lock and replacement of the cills and quoins. The timber planking to the floor of the middle chamber will also be renewed as well as grouting to the walls of the bottom chamber to prevent leakage.

The old lock gates, which have been in operation at Newlay for over 25 years, will be recycled and reused for other projects. BW had to rescue and relocate fish and crayfish from the lock chambers before they could be completely drained.

The crane lifts one of the lower gates into position. (Photo: BW)
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Mike Clarke of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society said: "Newlay Locks were some of the first on the canal, and opened in 1777. They use an older type of construction, with stone walls built on wooden foundations, and have wooden flooring to the bottom of the lock chambers. As such, they are an important historical engineering structure and require high standards of conservation.

"Members of the canal society have worked with British Waterways' heritage staff to ensure that such historic structures are recorded and conserved to ensure their continued survival, and that they remain for future generations to enjoy."

BW's regional manager Debbie Lumb said: "The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is one of our principal leisure waterways in the north. The waterways have experienced an amazing renaissance in recent years and are now used by more people than ever so it’s vitally important that we preserve them for the future so local communities can continue to enjoy and embrace them for years to come.

"The towpath, which is currently used by thousands of local residents and visitors for walking, angling, running, cycling and dog walking, will remain open during the project."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

One Day Stoppage at Lemonroyd

Lemonroyd Lock on Aire and Calder will be closed on Tuesday 23rd February between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.

This is to allow CE Electric to complete tree felling works surrounding the lock.

Lemonroyd Lock is on the section of the navigation between Leeds and Castleford.

Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 0113 281 6860.

Lemonroyd Lock - there were no trees near the lock when this photo was taken in 2003!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Barton Aqueduct Re-opens

Barton Swing Aqueduct on the Bridgewater Canal, is to re-open to navigation on Thursday 4th February at 12.00 noon.

The aqueduct has been closed to boaters on the Bridgewater Canal for the last two weeks as reported here apart from two brief openings.

There has been a problem achieving a water tight seal on the North side of the Aqueduct. Bridgewater Canal Company engineers have been working to resolve this and the aqueduct is now ready to swing again.

Any queries about this stoppage should be made to the Bridgewater Canal Company on 0161 629 8266.

Barton Swing Aqueduct

Monday, 1 February 2010

More Stoppages Delayed

British Waterways has announced that stoppages on the Macclesfield and Rochdale Canals will start and finish later than planned.

Repairs to Grimshaw Lane Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal at Bollington, due to begin on 4th January, will not now begin until 8th February. The work is now scheduled to finish on 26th March.

Repairs to Red Bull Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal, across the A50 at Kidsgrove, due to begin on 4th January, will not now begin until 15th February. The work is now scheduled to finish on 26th March.

Repairs to locks on the Rochdale Canal through Todmorden and Walsden, due to begin on 4th January, have now begun on 1st February. The work is now scheduled to finish on 26th March.

A stoppage to both the towpath and navigation in Sowerby Bridge due to a dangerous chimney alongside the canal has now been extended to 26th February.

Any enquiries regarding these stoppages should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

A list of the Winter stoppages in the area and any known alterations can be seen here:

Red Bull Aqueduct, Macclesfield Canal