Pennine Waterways News

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Huddersfield Canal closed for tunnel removal!

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal has closed to through boat traffic early this year because of a lengthy stoppage between Locks 2e and 4e in Huddersfield.

The stoppage began on 1st October and will continue to March 31st 2012, in effect closing the eastern half of the canal, while Sellers Tunnel is removed. British Waterways will take advantage of this longer-than-usual stoppage period to replace all or some of the gates on eleven of the locks on the east side of the canal, hopefully leading to fewer problems with water levels.

The work to be carried out in Huddersfield involves the opening up of the tunnel that was constructed below the former site of Sellers Engineering in 2000, bringing the canal back to the surface. This will require the new Lock 3e to be relocated close to the site of the original lock, just west of Chapel Hill.

Rather than construct a brand new channel, for most of the route the existing sheet-piled channel will be used. This will be partly-infilled to raise the canal bed to the higher level. The concrete struts that currently prevent the two sides from collapsing inwards can then be removed.

A short wider section will be constructed west of the new lock, enabling boats to pass.

The former Sellers site showing the tunnel being opened up.

In order to fit the work into the comparatively short time slot, a head start has already been made by removing the concrete roof sections that were placed between the supporting struts, as seen in the photos above and below. [Click photos to see larger versions.]

The former Sellers site showing the tunnel being opened up.

Sellers Engineering has moved to a new site and their former site is being developed as the Huddersfield Waterfront Quarter regeneration scheme, which includes the new site for Kirklees College as well as offices, around 300 new homes, leisure facilities and restaurants.

The completed development will include a public square next to the canal and will enable walkers to follow the canal from Longroyd Bridge to Chapel Hill. There will still be the shorter section between Chapel Hill and Queen Street where a pedestrian diversion away from the canal will still be necessary.

Sheet-piling channel during construction in February 2000.

The concrete roof sections being put into position in 2000. (Photo: Costain Ltd)

To better understand how Sellers Tunnel was constructed, see the sequence of web pages that illustrate its construction just over a decade ago.

For an impression of what the scheme may look like, see this web site.

The removal of this tunnel and relocation of the lock after just ten years must make them candidates for the shortest-lived canal tunnel and lock!

The locks on the east side that will have gates replaced during the stoppage period are:
- Locks 1e, 7e, 12e, 28e, 28e, 32e, 37e, 38e, 39e and 40e will have their top and bottom gates replaced.
- Locks 8e and 40e will have their bottom gates replaced and Lock 34e will have its top gate replaced.
- The top gate of Lock 31w at Diggle will also be replaced.


  1. Martin, has Bates' tunnel been opened up as well or just Sellers

    1. no just sellers would love to see bates tunnel opened up and access from chapel hill to lock 2

    2. What was the aim in opening the tunnel out? Couldn't they have just left it as it was and saved all that time, money & effort?


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