Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Escape Day planned for Macclesfield Boaters (updated)

Boaters trapped by an emergency stoppage on the Macclesfield Canal will be given an opportunity to get through the stoppage on Wednesday 16th October between 11.00 am and 1.30 pm.

Passage through the site will be strictly controlled. To ensure a passage through the affected area, boaters should call CRT's North-West Customer Support team on 03030 404040.

There have been recurring problems of leakage from the canal embankment in the area around Clarence Mill and Bollington Aqueduct.

Stop planks have been inserted at Bridge 26 (Sugar Lane ) and Bridge 27 (Kerridge). These have enabled engineers to assess the severity of the current leak. As a result of their observations, the stop planks will remain in place and the leak repair programme planned for the Winter will be brought forward.

However, because a lot of boaters heading back to their home bases have been 'caught out' by the unexpected stoppage, the Canal and River Trust is to allow an escape window of 2.5 hours on 16th October.

This will be the only passage through the area until the embankment repair works are completed in March 2020. The alternative route is via the Trent and Mersey Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Rochdale Nine, Ashton Canal and Lower Peak Forest Canal.

The repairs will include a canal bed relining scheme on a 80m section of the canal between Bridges 26 and 27 along with re-building 66m of wash wall near Clarence Mill. The navigation will be dewatered. Work is expected to be completed by 13th March 2020.

Update, 14th Oct:
The Canal and River Trust has announced that, due to an overwhelming demand and limited time available to ensure safe passage, no further requests can be accepted for passage through Bollington on 16th October.

Bollington Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal

Rochdale Nine Closure

The 'Rochdale Nine' lock flight on the Rochdale Canal through Manchester is currently closed awaiting repairs to Lock 86 at Canal Street.

This follows a gate failure on 25th September. As the lock is a Grade II Listed Structure it has been necessary to obtain permission to carry out work on it. CRT's Heritage team has been advising on methods of repair.

The local authority has now allowed CRT to proceed with these emergency works whilst the Listed Building application is being processed. The CRT team will make preparations by installing pumps and a fabric dam this week. Once approval has been given for work safely to take place behind the dam, CRT will issue an update on how soon the canal is likely to be re-opened.
Lock 86 of the Rochdale Canal in Manchester

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.