Pennine Waterways News

Monday, 21 May 2012

Why the Huddersfield Narrow is still closed


This year's boating season has not got off to a good start on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Firstly there was the delay in re-opening Lock 20w after grouting had seeped up through the lock floor and prevented the gates from moving. Then a boat sinking in Lock 1w took several days to sort out. Now Lock 1w is closed yet again as emergency repairs are carried out.

What at first look appeared to be a problem with the tail gate hydraulic paddles then seemed to be damage to the lock chamber floor and lower cill. Finally there was found to be extensive cracking in the heel posts of the bottom gates, so that the lock could not be filled. This necessitated the gates being taken off so that repairs could be carried out.

All this is very unfortunate but understandable.

The gates have now been repaired and are back in position. However the lock cannot yet be re-opened. The reason is clear when you look at the photograph below. It seems that health and safety requirements mean that no work can be done at a lock that has been drained unless the lock chamber is completely surrounded by scaffolding railings. The work may be finished but BW now need to wait for the scaffolding contractors to come back and remove the scaffolding. So, instead of the waiting boats being able to get through tonight (Monday), they are having to wait until Wednesday afternoon!


Lock 1w, Huddersfield Narrow Canal this afternoon

(Click on image for larger view, click Back button to come back to this page.)

I wonder if anyone has any statistics showing how many BW staff or other people have fallen into locks that have been drained for repairs. I suspect the numbers might be very low, if not non-existent!

Of course, these problem with the gates at Lock 1w would not have happened had the gates been replaced as planned three years ago. The gates and the paddles are operated remotely by windlass-operated hydraulics and are very slow and heavy work. There is also a serious safety issue in that the paddles cannot be closed quickly in an emergency. They were due to have been replaced with new gates with ratchet paddles and crooked beams, like the ones that replaced the similar hydraulic gates at Lock 2w.

However, in order for these beams to be operated, it was necessary to retrieve a small piece of land from the site that BW was renting to a garden centre. This seemed to be something that BW's legal eagles were not able to sort out with any speed. I understand the latest position is that BW has sold the land to the garden centre, minus the bit that is needed for the balance beam sweep. Nothing appears to have changed on the ground, though. The new gates have not been fitted, with the result that the heel posts on these really old gates have failed and required costly repairs.

Update, 23rd May, 4.30 pm:
The work at Lock 1w has been completed and the navigation has now re-opened.

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