While parts of the canal were open to navigation from 1796, Standedge Tunnel and the Diggle lock flight did not open until 4th April 2011. To mark this bi-centenary, a long weekend of events is planned at Standedge for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th April 2011.
On Saturday 2nd April, the historic narrowboat Maria will be horsedrawn up the Diggle locks from Wool Road, starting at 10.30 am. At around 1.00 pm the boat will be legged through the 3.24 mile long tunnel.
When the boat disappears into the tunnel, energetic members of the public will be invited to accompany the boat horse as it walks up over the moors on a route of around 4 miles to meet the boat at Tunnel End, Marsden.
On Sunday 3rd April it is hoped that three horsedrawn boats will be legged through Standedge Tunnel starting at Tunnel End, Marsden at 1.00 pm with members of the public invited to walk over the moors with the boat horse.
On Monday 4th April it is hoped that three horsedrawn boats will be legged through Standedge Tunnel starting at the Diggle portal 10.00 am with members of the public invited to walk over the moors with the boat horse.
There will be a range of other activities at Tunnel End on all three days and, on Monday 4th April, there will be a re-creation of the 1811 opening day featuring "Thomas Telford" and a brass band.
Further information about this weekend can be found at www.standedge.co.uk and www.horseboating.org.uk
Legging in Standedge Tunnel in 2009. Photo: Paul Atterbury
If you have always wanted to help leg a boat through Standedge Tunnel, this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for! The Horseboating Society still need more volunteers to help leg the boats on 3rd or 4th April. It is an unforgettable experience and quite unlike traversing the tunnel on an engined boat or travelling on the electric passenger boat. You would need to become a member of the society but that is a small price to pay for such an opportunity! You will need to contact the Horseboating Society as soon as possible if you wish to take part - you cannot turn up and offer on the day!
Later in the year, on Sunday September 18th, there will be a Festival and Boat Gathering at Diggle, which will include short public trips into the tunnel from the Diggle end - the first time that BW has offered this! The festival will be held adjacent to Diggle top lock. Anyone wishing to take their boat to the gathering must contact Huddersfield Canal Society.