Pennine Waterways News

Friday 12 December 2008

Ashton Canal finally re-opens

The Ashton Canal has finally re-opened to through navigation after being closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

The canal was closed on 15th October after damage to the gate caused its operation to be considered dangerous. British Waterways staff investigated whether it could be quickly repaired but found that a new gate was required. A new gate was ordered to be manufactured as soon as possible.

British Waterways issued a stoppage notice warning that the canal was likely to remain closed for at least a week. However the stoppage was extended several times due to various delays.

On Nov 14th BW announced that the replacement gate has been manufactured and delivered to the local depot. Work to install the gate was to start the following week with the canal expected to re-open on 28th November. However, on 28th November, BW announced that work had been delayed "due to unforseen circumstances" and that the canal should be re-opened by 10th December. Following a further delay the canal was finally re-opened on 12 December.

The stoppage affected boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring. It caused potential difficulties for boaters attempting to reach places before the winter stoppage programme began on 3rd November. Some concern has been expressed about the length of time taken to complete this repair on the Ashton Canal compared with the speedy repairs that are carried out on more popular canals further south.

Thursday 4 December 2008

Prince Charles visits Sowerby Bridge Canal Wharf

In late November, Prince Charles visited Sowerby Bridge Wharf to see for himself the extensive conservation and regeneration of the area.

The project to regenerate the wharf area was established by his charity, The Prince's Regeneration Trust, in 1996, at a time when the wharf was in a state of decline and the warehouses facing dereliction.

The project conserved and restored a unique collection of historic canal buildings, benefiting and supporting existing businesses at the wharf, attracting new businesses to the area and bringing visitors to this historically important site. The wharf with its warehouses is situated at the junction of the Calder and Hebble Navigation with the Rochdale Canal.

The focus of the project was the regeneration of the Grade II listed Salt Warehouse and the Grade II* listed No. 4 Warehouse, which in turn attracted further development.

Robin Evans of BW shows Prince Charles around Sowerby Bridge Canal Wharf. Photo: BW

The Prince toured the warehouses and met those running businesses there. He saw the wet dock and named a newly-built canal boat. He spoke to local Sea Scouts who had initially saved the Salt Warehouse from collapse by renovating part of the structure and erecting a temporary roof, before the start of the regeneration project.

Stephen Baines of Calderdale Council said: "The Council has worked for many years to achieve the regeneration of the canal basin area and is very grateful to The Prince for the commitment and support of his Regeneration Trust. This major transformation has been the result of close working with the local community."

Maddy Jago of English Heritage, which provided design and conservation advice, said: "The conservation of the canal warehouses has extended regeneration to the wharf and it is wonderful to see them once again being used and enjoyed by the local community."

Friday 14 November 2008

Very Limited Opening at Salterhebble Guillotine Lock

There will be very restricted passage through Salterhebble Guillotine Lock on the Calder and Hebble Navigation over the winter period. This follows a technical breakdown in May, since which the guillotine has had to be manually operated by BW staff.

The Guillotine Lock will be operated by BW staff during the following period only:
• 12.00 noon - 1.00 pm daily

Passage will be possible outside these hours but this must be booked 72 hours in advance by telephoning the Yorkshire office on 0113 281 6860.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Extension to Liverpool for Bridgewater licence holders

British Waterways has agreed to extend its arrangement with the Manchester Ship Canal Company to allow pleasure craft displaying a valid Bridgewater Canal licence to travel through to Liverpool.

This extension is for a limited period of time, from 1st January 2009 until 31st December 2013. This means that when the Liverpool Canal Link opens in Spring 2009, Bridgewater licence holders will be able to travel along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal beyond Burscough and to use the Liverpool Canal Link through to the Albert Dock.

Currently, Bridgewater licence holders can travel for a period of seven days free of charge along the Leigh Branch and from Wigan to Burscough and from Wigan to the bottom of Blackburn Locks. In a reciprocal agreement, BW licence holders can use the Bridgewater Canal free of charge for up to seven days.

This arrangement is hoped to increase the number of boats expected to travel along the under-used western end of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and onto the new Canal Link through to the southern docks. Some improvements have been made to the section of canal between Litherland and Liverpool but long-term improvement can only come from increased use, so that boats become a regular sight.

The present destination of Eldonian Village, while being an attractive location, has not been a sufficient draw to bring large numbers of boats along the western end of the canal. The exciting new route through the central docks and across the vibrant Pier Head area to the new destination of Salthouse and Albert Docks has already caught the imaginations of boat owners and is expected to attract a lot more boats to journey along the canal to Liverpool.

The new agreement between British Waterways and the Manchester Ship Canal Company was reached following a request by a boater on the Bridgewater Canal and will allow Bridgewater licence holders to cruise to Liverpool without additional charge.

The section of the new Canal Link through the Pier Head in Liverpool was filled with water recently and the public has been allowed back onto this part of the Pier Head. This has met with wide approval, with Liverpudlians keen to see the Link fully opened and boats coming through.

The latest photos of the Canal Link can be seen here.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Liverpool Canal Link

The Liverpool Canal Link is now in water at Pier Head. The rest of the route is nearing completion, including a new channel through Trafalgar Dock.

Four pages of new photos of the Canal Link can be seen here.

Saturday 25 October 2008

New Mile Posts for Leeds and Liverpool

An interesting project is under way to restore missing mile posts along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

This involves a collaboration between the Bradford Motor Education Project, British Waterways, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association.

Bradford Motor Education Project's marine division, "Dreamweavers", which supports the education, training and personal development of young people, has co-ordinated the project, with senior trainees having been involved in pattern making, casting the mile plates, surveying the sites and installation of the posts.

At first, the mile posts will be installed between Shipley and Bingley. It is hoped eventually to complete the length between Apperley Bridge and Skipton.

Some of the funding for the project came from a donation to the IWA for the benefit of canals in the West Yorkshire area.

Considerable support in the manufacturing of the mile posts came from Carnaud Metal Box of Shipley and the first post was installed outside their door!

Mike Clarke (Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society) and Trevor Roberts (Bradford Motor Education Project) with one of the new mile posts.(Photo: BW)

Some of the castings used in the making of the mile posts, including "positives" and "negatives". (Photo: Peter Scott)

Hunting the Ghosts of Standedge!

One of Britain's top ghosthunters, David Vee, has once again been called in to investigate paranormal activity at Standedge.

Following last year's fantastic success, Standedge is opening this mysterious and chilling experience to the public once again by offering the chance to join David and members of his paranormal team on board a boat to venture into the tunnel in a bone tingling quest for ghosts, ghouls and all things creepy!

Those that can hold their nerve will explore inside the haunted tunnel before venturing up to the visitor centre where a vigil to connect with the paranormal world will be held.

David Vee said: "The event at Standedge is a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about ghosts to get an understanding of what we do on an investigation. Standedge is a great prospect for us as it has real history and an air of mystery. I picked up on some activity around the site when I last visited, particularly in the tunnel, so I can't wait to lead people on this journey and see what we can discover."

The haunting experience with special guest David Vee starts at 9.00 pm, finishing at 2.00 am and costs a spooky £40 per head, but you must be over 16 years old and bring suitable warm clothing and footwear. Places can be reserved by contacting the Standedge team on 01484 844298. Cheques should be made payable to British Waterways and sent to James Dean, Visitor Services Manager, Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre, Waters Road, Marsden, Huddersfield, HD7 6NQ.

For younger spook-seekers or those with less bulging wallets, Standedge will host a series of Hallowe'en themed boat trips in to the tunnel on Wednesday 29th. Thursday 30th and 31st October.

Friday 24 October 2008

Ashton Canal Remains closed after gate damage

The Ashton Canal has been closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

British Waterways staff have investigated the extent of the damage and found that a new gate is required.

BW's workshop has been informed, timber has been ordered and a new gate will be manufactured as soon as possible

The canal is likely to remain closed for at least a week.

This will affect boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Update: Oct 24th 2008

The canal remains closed to through navigation. Measurements have been taken and the workshop has started constructing the replacement gate, but it could be up to 4 weeks before navigation is restored.

A further update notice will be issued by BW on Friday 14th November.

Lock 17, Ashton Canal

Stoppage on Bridgewater near Leigh

There will be a major stoppage on the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal this winter.

New safety gates will be installed on the navigation near Lingards Footbridge, close to the A580 East Lancs Road crossing, between Boothstown and Leigh.

The area is very prone to mining subsidence and the safety gates are needed to protect the canal from the effects of this subsidence, due to fissures that cross the line of the canal. The gates will close in the event of any sudden water loss.

Work will begin on Monday 10th November 2008 and continue until Friday 30th January 2009 or until such time as the work is complete.

There are winding holes for boats to turn west of the A580 (Morleys) Bridge and at Boothstown marina. There will also be towpath restrictions and diversions as needed.

Peel Holdings say that there is unlikely to be any temporary opening of the route over the Christmas period.

Lingards Footbridge, Leigh Branch

Pollington Lock Re-opens

Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation is to re-open on Monday (27th October) after being closed for three weeks.

British Waterways needed to drain Pollington Lock to enable its operations team to carry out repair works at the site, which involved the replacement of two of the seven sluices and general repairs to the lock gates and cills.

However, Pollington Lock is no ordinary lock - it is one of the largest locks on the waterway system! The original lock was built around 1825 when the Knottingley to Goole section of the waterway was opened to avoid the tidal River Ouse. The lock was extended a number of times, most recently in 1970, to accommodate larger commercial vessels.

The lock has four sets of gates, which are all operational, which can be used in combination to create a chamber of varying length, according to the size of vessel passing through.

Click here to see a Google aerial view of Pollington Lock.

Around 850 loaded barges pass along the Aire and Calder each year, carrying mainly oil or sand. Each barge holds about 13 lorry loads, keeping around 11,000 loaded lorries off local roads each year.

The route through Pollington is also used by thousands of pleasure boaters, as it forms a vital link from Leeds and Wakefield to Doncaster and to the tidal River Trent at Keadby.

Pollington Lock during refurbishment work. Photo: BW

Click here to see more photographs from British Waterways showing some of the work that has taken place at Pollington Lock.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Self-Steer at Standedge Tunnel

British Waterways will change the way that boats pass through Standedge Tunnel from 2009!

Boaters have been told than a new system of "Chaperoned Operation" will be used for diesel powered boats.

The present system, which started when the tunnel re-opened in 2001, is a complex operation, requiring an electric tug and passenger module pulling customers' boats through in a convoy on just two days a week. A safety vehicle in the adjacent disused railway tunnel shadows the convoy. The operation is very labour intensive and costly to run and the limited passage times is a disincentive for boaters to use the canal.

Tests carried out during 2007 showed that it was feasible for diesel engines to be operated routinely within the canal tunnel, with gas emmision levels well within HSE limits for safe working. During 2007 and 2008 BW carried out a series of trials involving first hire boats of Shire Cruisers and later privately owned boats with the approval of the owners. By working with a variety of boats of different types BW has been able to assess potential operational problems.

As a result of the tests and the positive feedback that the new system was more flexible and effective, a system of "Chaperoned Operation" will be introduced from 16th March 2009, with competent BW staff accompanying boat owners as they take their boat through the tunnel. The BW staff wll be there to advise and may steer if required.

BW has indicated that the operation of this systen is likely to include:
• All boats to undergo a safety assessment before transit.
• Critical points of the boats to be fendered.
• Boat owner or steerer and BW chaperone to be equipped with authorized Personal Protection Equipment (e.g. hard hats, etc), additional lighting and two radios. Other crew members to remain inside the boat cabin.
• A returnable deposit of £50 along with a small at-cost charge will be taken either in cash or by credit card, to ensure that guidelines are abided by and equipment returned in good order. This deposit will be asked for at the point of booking to ensure boats turn up.
• Competent BW staff to accompany boat owners through tunnel on their craft. BW staff to act as 'chaperones' and advise boaters on navigating the tunnel. BW staff may be prepared to steer through difficult points, under the consent of the boat owner.

It should be possible for certain boats, such as petrol powered vessels, to be towed through the tunnel as at present.

Another new development will benefit local people and visitors who are not boaters. Up until now, anyone can book to join one of the convoys by buying a "hiker's ticket" but the days and times have had to fit in with the boat convoys. In 2009 BW will trial special passenger trips right through the tunnel. These are to be on the first Saturday of the month for a six month trial period. This initiative will give the non-boating community the opportunity to see the entire tunnel.

In preparation for the self-steer operation for boaters, BW will be working on the tunnel during the winter stoppage period, improving some of the tunnel's "pinch points" where boats can sustain damage. Improvements in communications within the tunnel will also be made.

It is understood that tunnel passages will be available on more than the current two days a week. Further information will be published as it becomes available.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Gate Damage closes Ashton Canal

The Ashton Canal has been closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

British Waterways staff have investigated the extent of the damage and found that a new gate is required.

BW's workshop has been informed, timber has been ordered and a new gate will be manufactured as soon as possible

The canal is likely to remain closed for at least a week. This will affect boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700. An update notice will be issued by BW on Friday 24th October.

Photo: Lock 17, Ashton Canal

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Report Unlicensed Boats!

Oct 15th 2008
British Waterways is urging boaters to report boats that are not licensed.

One of the problems that has been found in the past is that some boats not displaying a licence or displaying an out-of-date licence are in fact licensed, which wastes time for enforcement officers.

To help get around this, a new online report page has been introduced where you can check whether a boat is licensed and report it if it is not.

If you see a boat that you think may not be licensed, go to BW's online checker and enter the boat's registration number. The database will then tell you whether the boat is licensed. If it is not, you will be invited to enter details about the boat's location so that a licence inspector can investigate.

If the boat is not showing a registration number, you can enter the location and details such as the boat's colour, etc. so that it can be investigated.

It has been infuriating for boaters who pay their licences promptly to see other trying to get something for nothing. If a boat in unlicensed it may also lack insurance and a boat safety certificate. BW has been having a purge on boats that are unlicensed or which overstay at moorings, with the enforcement team having been strengthened.

On the north west's waterways15 boats have been seized and impounded in four months and £180,000 collected in unpaid licence and mooring fees.

BW's Jane Thomson says: "We are acting in the interests of our canals and customers by reducing the number of unlicensed and derelict craft blighting our waterways. Every penny is being ploughed back into maintaining and improving the network for everyone."

To find out more about buying a licence, licence conditions, etc. see

Link to BW's online checker.

Photo: BW

Monday 13 October 2008

Sheffield Stoppage

Oct 7th 2008
A stoppage on the Tinsley Locks on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation is to continue.

The pump system that back-pumps water up the Tinsley Locks near Sheffield has been causing problems. This has led to low water levels, so no passage is possible through the Tinsley lock flight until the pump is fully repaired.

British Waterways has announced that problems are continuing and so the flight will remain closed for now. A further update will be issued on October 13th.

Update: Oct 13th 2008
The flight will re-open at 8.00 am on Wednesday 15th October.

Weir Damage Closes Calder and Hebble

Oct 7th 2008
High volumes of water coming down the River Calder over the weekend have washed away part of the weir at Ledgard near Mirfield.

This has resulted in low levels on the river below Battyeford Lock and along Mirfield Cut to Shepley Bridge Lock. It is reported that boats moored in the mile-long Mirfield Cut are now sitting on the bottom.

British Waterways engineers have been on site to assess the extend of the damage. The Calder and Hebble Navigation is now closed between Battyeford Lock and Shepley Bridge Lock. This stoppage will be initially for one week but could be extended.

: Oct 11th 2008
Work on the weir is progressing and water levels are rising. The navigation has re-opened but boaters should proceed with caution until works are complete and levels back to normal.

Update: Oct 13th 2008
Work is now complete and normal water levels have resumed.

Mirfield Cut above Shepley Bridge Lock - levels had been low here.

Monday 6 October 2008

Two Women Rescued in Canal Plunge Drama

Two women were rescued from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal last week following a bizarre freak accident.

The two women, Jackie Lewis, who was in a motorised scooter, and her carer, Catrina Paton were visiting the Kirklees area from Devon. During a visit to Tunnel End, near Marsden, they were exploring the canal towpath when they were caught in a sudden heavy shower. Reports suggest that while they were hurrying back to their car, a gust of wind blew Jackie's hood over her eyes, causing her to veer off the towpath into the canal, knocking Catrina into the water as well.

At the point where this happened, the towpath is around 6 feet above the water so neither lady was able to climb out. Their shouts were heard and the alarm was raised. A visitor ran round and threw a life ring for the women to hold onto and three British Waterways staff rushed from nearby Tunnel End Cottage bringing a pole. They were able to pull the two women to a point where they could be pulled out of the water and taken back to the BW office until the ambulance arrived.

Fortunately the place where they fell in is a winding hole (boat turning point) so the water was deep. Had they fallen from a height into shallow water they could have sustained injury.

The fire brigade was alerted and a full water rescue procedure initiated, with fire engines sent from Marsden and Slaithwaite and special units from Brighouse, Cleckheaton and Bingley. Fortunately these were not needed thanks to the prompt action of the British Waterways staff.

It was reported that BW send their Health and Safety specialists to visit the scene on Thursday and that they are looking into the possibility of putting railings along the edge of the towpath at this location.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Forty Years on the Huddersfield Canal at Standedge!

On 23rd September, Fred Carter celebrated 40 years of working on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Standedge!

To mark Fred's 40 years on the canal, the Huddersfield Canal Society gave him a handwritten citation, complete with a specially-produced hand-cut wax seal, granting him honorary life membership of the Society.

It was presented to him by Ronnie Rose, a long-standing volunteer with the Society, who has come to know Fred very well over the years.

Fred is often to be found steering the passenger boat or acting as tunnel guide. His genial manner combines with his extensive knowledge of the tunnel to guarantee an interesting journey!

"I have seen the canal come full circle!" he says. He remembers seeing the locks filled in and "cascaded" to make them safe and he remembers seeing them restored years later.

When the canal re-opened in 2001, Fred became a tunnel pilot and a guide aboard the passenger boat in Standedge Tunnel. He loves working on the tunnel convoys. "You get some really nice boat crews travelling through the tunnel," he says, "and the time really flies". He takes turns at the different jobs in the tunnel and still has time to do regular reservoir inspections.

Recently, he has played a part in the trials that have been carried out to test the practicalities of boats passing through Standedge Tunnel under their own power. He has made over a thousand passages through the tunnel and knows every bit of it. "I'm so used to the dark, they won't let me drive boats in the daylight now!" he laughs.

Fred Carter (centre) with Huddersfield Canal Society members Neville Kenyon, Ronnie Rose, Paul Leeman, Andrea Fisher and Keith Sykes.

Friday 19 September 2008

First boats back on Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal!

The first boats entered the newly restored section of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal in Salford today.

Boats gathered on the River Irwell to enter the new Margaret Fletcher Tunnel leading to the new lock.

The lock has a fall of around 4m (16 ft), depending on the river level. It replaces the original Locks 1 and 2, which formed a staircase. These had to be replaced by a tunnel under the Relief Road and the new lock to the west of the railway.

After the first boat, the Prince William, rose in the lock, speeches were made and a plaque was unveiled.

Photos, above: The first boat entering the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel. Below: Boats above the new lock.

More photos of the event and of the new canal sections in water are now here.

New photos of the canal in water between the River Irwell and Oldfield Road are now here.

Friday 12 September 2008

Stranded Boat Refloated

A narrowboat, which has been stranded on the towpath near Wakefield since January, was re-floated on Wednesday afternoon.

Pipistrelle was lifted onto the towpath of the Calder and Hebble, out side the Navigation Inn, Broad Cut, by a sudden flood in January 2008. Another narrowboat nearby was capsized during the flooding. See photos of the boats after the flooding.

Because of the difficulty of getting a crane to the location, NB Pipistrelle has been sitting high and dry across the towpath ever since.

On Wednesday a salvage team arrived to retrieve the stranded boat. Arrangements were made with British Waterways for temporary stoppages to navigation during the recovery process.

Eye-witness accounts of the recovery suggest that it was unorthodox and undignified! The bow of the boat was under water for a time and a quantity of water appears to have been taken on board. It is believed that the propellor and prop shaft were removed beforehand to avoid damage but there appears to have been some damage to the rudder and skeg during the removal.

It is not known whether the contractors were acting for the boat owners or an insurance company and it is not known what will happen to the boat now. It has now been towed away from Broad Cut.

The photos in this post are shown courtesy of Neil Sanford and are taken from a video recording.

The video of the recovery can be seen here. Please note that this lasts around 20 minutes and is only suitable for broadband users.

Thursday 11 September 2008

Lock Gates in Liverpool

Work on the construction of the new Liverpool Canal Link is reaching its final stages.

In August the new lock between the Canal Link and Canning Dock was completed at Mann Island with the installation of lock gates.

The gates were 5 metres (16 feet) high and weighed 4 tonnes. They were built a few miles away by Twinbridge of Burscough before being takento British Waterways' workshop at Stanley Ferry to have the paddle sluices and operating gear fitted.

In addition to the normal pair of gates at each end, there is a third pair of gates at the Canning Dock end, facing the other way, to act as a flood lock on the occasions when the water level in Canning Dock is higher than that in the Canal Link.

The section of new canal channel across the Pier Head area is now almost complete. Another lock is currently under construction at the northern end of this channel where it connects with Prince's Dock.

The construction of the remainder of the Link should be complete by December. After that, there will be a period of testing and commissioning before the Link opens to boats in Spring 2009.

Click here for more photos of the new canal channel and lock at Mann Island.

Photos of the construction along the whole line of the Canal Link can be seen here.

[It is hoped to have a new set of photos on this site showing progress along the whole route in the next few weeks.]

Monday 8 September 2008

From Bank to Bank on the Ashton Canal

There is to be an influx of bank staff on the Ashton Canal - literally!

On Wednesday 10th September, 180 volunteers from the Royal Bank of Scotland are going to carry out work on the banks of the Ashton Canal around the Fairfield Locks in Droylsden.

The work, which should significantly improve the appeal of this waterway corridor to visitors, will include towpath repairs, graffiti removal, vegetation management, building maintenance, landscaping, dry stone walling and wash wall repairs.

According to Steve Higham of British Waterways, the volunteers are to be split into task groups, with each group under professional supervision from BW operational staff.

He said: "An attractive environment is proven to attract more pedestrians and cyclists from the local community along with visitors from further afield."

The area to be worked on will stretch over a mile between Bridges 14 and 20, with the towpath the whole way through Droylsden being closed for the day to allow the works to proceed safely

Volunteers working on a previous event. Photo: BW

This event is part of BW's ongoing policy of increasing the input that volunteers can have in helping to maintain the waterway environment.

Sunday 7 September 2008

More problems on Huddersfield Narrow C anal

Problems with locks and vandals have caused closures of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

The Diggle flight has been closed for several days while gate repairs are made at Lock 27w. The tail gate appears to have suffered heavy impact from a boat, resulting in three of the thick cross beams being cracked [see photo, below]. There was felt to be a danger of the gate collapsing outwards with the weight of water behind it when filled.

It is believed that the impact occurred some time ago but the gate has become weaker to the point that it was considered dangerous to use.

BW staff began to make repairs last Wednesday but found that the damage was more serious than at first thought, requiring more substantial repairs. Metal bands have been bolted to the cross beams and to the inside face of the gate to act as strengthening braces.

Three boats were heading westbound through Standedge Tunnel on Wednesday morning and these boats are still waiting at Diggle. A number of boats are waiting at Wool Road and Uppermill for a tunnel passage, having been booked to go through on Wednesday or Friday.

The work appears to have been completed and, hopefully, once the gates have been inspected on Monday morning, the Diggle flight will re-open. It is understand that BW may convey the delayed boats through the tunnel on Monday.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

The pound above Lock 10w was completely drained last week. This has been blamed by some on youngsters and by others on poachers attempting to capture the fish. The canal was closed for around 36 hours until enough water had been sent down to refill the pound.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Swimming the Manchester Ship Canal!

This weekend sees the first attempt to swim the length of the Manchester Ship Canal!

James Whittaker is swimming the 36 mile length of the canal on 5th and 6th September in an attempt to raise £250,000 for The Children's Hospital Appeal. James is a Development Director for canal owners Peel Holdings. Peel is donating £1 million to the charity.

Although James will swim on his own, he will be accompanied by a safety boat and friends in kayaks for moral support! The 36 mile swim is the equivalent of swimming 2.400 lengths of a public swimming pool.

James has been training by swimming lakes such as Coniston Water, Bala Lake, Rivington Lake and two-way swims on Ullswater and Windermere.

James Whittaker (left) preparing for the swim (Photo: Peel Holdings)

The New Children's Hospital Appeal was launched in 2006 to raise £20 million to fund projects in the New Children's Hospital in Manchester.

You can sponsor James and help him to reach his target by making a donation through the Just Giving website. Taxpayers can make a Gift Aid declaration which will boost their donations.

Read more about James and the preparations for the swim on his Ocean Gateway Challenge website.

Saturday 23 August 2008

EA Probing Rochdale Canal Pollution

Experts from the Environment Agency have been investigating the pollution incident that closed the Rochdale Canal for several weeks.

They have now discovered that a large quantity of pesticide was poured down a road drain on the Oldham Broadway Business Park in Chadderton. The road drains flow into the canal at The Causeway. The EA's Steve Walters said "We believe somebody may have come along and dumped the herbicide down the drain undetected."

An estimated 15,000 fish were killed and a quantity of rare plant life destroyed. The fish included roach, perch and pike. The canal was closed to boat traffic between Manchester and Chadderton in order not to spread the effects of the pollution.

The investigation is still ongoing and the EA has urged anyone with any information about this to contact them on 0800 80 70 60.

Monday 18 August 2008

Short Stoppage at Bingley Locks

A short emergency stoppage is required at Bingley 5-Rise Locks to replace the heel post of a lock gate.

The locks will close at 5.00 pm on Monday 18th August and re-open at 12.00 noon on Wednesday 20th August.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 2816860.

Rochdale Canal Now Re-opened Following Pollution Incident

The Rochdale Canal is to re-open after being closed between Failsworth and Ancoats following a serious water pollution incident at the end of July.

The canal between Locks 64 and 83 will re-open at 8.30 am on 19th August.

This section of canal was closed in order to restrict the effects of the pollution while investigations by the Environment Agency and British Waterways took place. It was necessary to wait for the results and analysis of testing to ensure that secondary pollution would not occur from the re-opening of the canal.

Although the test results indicated that secondary pollution is unlikely to occur, because of the sensitive nature of the canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, British Waterways decided to conduct a trial re-introduction of boat traffic so that the effects could be monitored.

The "Rochdale Nine" locks through Manchester and the rest of the canal through Rochdale, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge have not been affected.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Friday 18 July 2008

South Yorkshire closed at Holme Lock

There is currently a stoppage on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation at Holme Lock, upstream of Rotherham.

The sluices have failed on the tail gates, requiring emergency repairs to be carried out to the sluices and lock gates. Passage will not be possible between Rotherham and Sheffield until the works have been completed.

At times, water levels may fluctuate up to 300mm down between Ickles Lock and Jordans Lock.

British Waterways will issue an update on Thursday 24th July.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Rochdale Canal Festivities Announced

A week of fun activities for young people beside the Rochdale Canal has been announced!

Oldham and Rochdale Councils have teamed up with British Waterways and The Waterways Trust to offer a week of free eco-fun packed activities for children and young people along the Rochdale Canal.

The week starts with a Fun Day at Ealees, behind Littleborough railway station on Saturday 19th July and ends with a Fun Day at Failsworth Basin near Tesco on Saturday 26th July.

The week includes bike rides, fishing lessons, kayak lessons, ghost walks, teddy bears picnics and treasure hunts.

A full list of all the events in both Oldham and Rochdale can be seen on this page.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Horrific Accident with Swing Bridge

A horrific accident has taken place at Buxton Lane Swing Bridge on the Ashton Canal.

A 15-year-old girl has had both legs amputated after becoming trapped between the bridge and the side of the canal. It has been reported that she had been dangling her legs either from the bridge or a concrete wall against which the bridge opened. Her friends pushed the bridge away to release her before the arrival of the emergency services.

The accident is being investigated by British Waterways, the Greater Manchester Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

The bridge is normally locked shut when not being used by a boat. It is not known at this stage whether a boater left the swing bridge unlocked or whether the children had acquired a key.

[Read BBC News report]

Friday 13 June 2008

Aldwarke Lock re-opens

Aldwarke Lock, on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation between Rotherham and Swinton, has now been repaired and will re-open from 14th June.

The navigation has been closed since June 1st after the top gates were damaged and had to be removed for repair off site. [See earlier report]

Friday 6 June 2008

Huddersfield Narrow closed

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is currently closed because of a problem at Lock 13w in Mossley.

The lock has suffered damage to the tail gate cill and has been closed to through navigation between locks 14w & 8w.

British Waterways estimates that the repair work will be completed by Sunday 8th June.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Update: June 8th 2008
The lock cill has been repaired and the canal has now re-opened to navigation.

Monday 2 June 2008

Sheffield & South Yorkshire closed

The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation is currently closed because of a problem at Aldwarke Lock, between Rotherham and Swinton..

The top lock gates at Aldwarke have sustained damage and the lock is inoperable. For boaters' safety, the navigation has been closed between Eastwood and Kilnhurst.

An update will be issued on Wednesday 4th June.

Update: June 4th 2008

A top lock gate has been removed to be repaired off site, which will take about one week, after which it will need to be re-installed.

Update: June 4th 2008

The repairs are now complete and the navigation will re-open from June 14th.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

More Tree Trouble Blocks Canals

Two more canals have been blocked by fallen trees, weakened by the high winds of last week.

The towpath and navigation of the Peak Forest Canal has been closed by a tree that has fallen on the north side of Hyde Bank Tunnel (about a mile from Marple Locks).

A fallen tree is blocking the Rochdale Canal near Bridge 6 at Luddenden Foot, about 2 miles west of Sowerby Bridge. This blockage is expected to have been cleared later this afternoon.

For enquiries about these stoppages, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Rochdale Stoppage - now re-opened

There is an emergency stoppage at lock 49, Moss Upper Lock, on the Rochdale Canal.

This is due to the head gate paddle which requires replacement.

British Waterways will issue re-open notices as soon as the work has been completed.

Photo shows Moss Lower Lock, with Moss Upper Lock in the background.

Boats can be winded below Lock 50 or below Lock 48.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Update: May 27th 2008
The gate paddle has been replaced and the canal has now re-opened to navigation.

Monday 26 May 2008

Trees Block Leeds and Liverpool

Strong winds in the area have resulted in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal being blocked in two places near Adlington by fallen trees.

One fallen tree has blocked the towpath and navigation near Ridding Bridge (number 74).

A second tree has blocked the navigation 3 miles nearer Wigan, between bridges 64 and 65 (between Adlington and Red Rock).

British Waterways will issue re-open notices as soon as the blockages have been cleared.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Update: May 27th 2008

The tree near Riddings Bridge has been removed and the canal has now re-opened to navigation. The tree between bridges 64 and 65 is expected to be removed on Wed 28th May.

Update: May 29th 2008

The tree between bridges 64 and 65 has been removed and the canal has now re-opened to navigation.

Saturday 24 May 2008

New photos of work on Liverpool Canal Link

Work on the Liverpool Canal Link at Pier Head is nearing completion, along with a new channel through Trafalgar Dock. Work has started on a new channel from Canning Dock.

Five pages of new photographs have been added to Pennine Waterways, starting at:

Here is one of the photos as a taster....

Friday 23 May 2008

Limited Hours at Salterhebble Guillotine Lock

Passage through Salterhebble Guillotine Lock on the Calder and Hebble Navigation is now possible again, following last week's closure, but the lock is only open during restricted hours.

The Guillotine Lock will be operated by BW staff during the following hours only:
• 9.00 - 10.00 am
• 12.00 noon - 2.00 pm
• 4.00 - 6.00 pm

A further statement is expected on 30th May.

The gear box on top of the guillotine broke a week ago, rendering the lock inoperable.

This restriction will affect boaters on the South Pennine Ring, those crossing the Pennines via the Rochdale Canal and some hirers of boats from Shire Cruisers, based nearby at Sowerby Bridge.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860

Sunday 18 May 2008

Meet the Boss!

Boaters, anglers, walkers and other canal users are to get the chance to meet the boss of British Waterways and to air their views.

Robin Evans, BW's Chief Executive, is to take a nationwide tour to give customers an opportunity to discuss issues relating to the management of the waterways. The 20 meetings are in addition to the regular user group meetings held in each area.

Robin describes the meetings as being useful for generally understanding and responding to customers' concerns. "Hearing and exchanging views at first hand will help develop the right policies for the future."

In the north, meetings will take place at the following locations -

Thursday 5th June:
• Dukinfield Town Hall, SK16 4LA, 9.30 - 11.00 am
• The Orwell, Wigan Pier, WN3 4EU, 6.00 - 7.30 pm
(to attend, contact Denise Bradshaw on 01942 405793)

Tuesday 29th July:
• The Pastures Lodge, Mexborough, S64 0JJ, 9.30 - 11.00 am
• East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, BD20 5EL, 5.30 - 7.00 pm
(to attend, contact Linzi O'Neill on 0113 281 6861)

Robin Evans at Marple, 2006
Photo: Chris Smyth

Friday 16 May 2008

Salterhebble Guillotine Lock Closed

The Calder and Hebble Navigation is closed at Salterhebble until further notice, following a breakdown of Salterhebble Guillotine Lock.

The gear box on top of the guillotine has broken, rendering the lock inoperable.

British Waterways expect it to be at least a week before the canal can be re-opened at this point. A further statement is expected on 23rd May.

This will affect boaters on the South Pennine Ring, those crossing the Pennines via the Rochdale Canal and some hirers of boats from Shire Cruisers, based nearby at Sowerby Bridge.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

Monday 12 May 2008

Horse-drawn to Huddersfield (2)

The Horseboating Society has once again re-enacted the passage of a boat along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal by horsepower. The historic wooden narrowboat Maria was towed from Ashton to Huddersfield and is currently on its return journey.

The highlight of the journey was when the boat was legged through Standedge Tunnel.

Maria was previously legged through Standedge Tunnel in 2006, when she was the first boat to have been legged through for around 60 years. [See report]

Local Oldham East and Saddleworth MP (and Defra Minister) Phil Woolas travelled aboard the boat from Uppermill to Diggle, where an enthusiastic crowd turned out in spite of heavy rain.

Ashton-under-Lyne MP David Heyes, in whose constituency the boat is based, joined the boat at Diggle and helped to leg through the tunnel.

The passage took just under 3 hours, so no records were broken!

Maria will pass back through Standedge on Wednesday as part of a normal convoy, continuing from Uppermill to Ashton on Thursday.

Legging through an easy brick-lined stretch of Standedge Tunnel. Some sections are of uneven rock, making the legging more difficult. (Click image for larger version)

Friday 9 May 2008

Breakthrough on Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal!

A "breakthrough" was celebrated today on the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal.

British Waterways engineers, construction workers from Volker Stevin and members of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society were on hand to witness the breaking through of the new Margaret Fletcher Tunnel in Salford.

The new tunnel beneath the Inner Relief Road and Manchester to Liverpool railway is named after Margaret Fletcher, the late chairman of the Canal Society, who successfully secured funding for its design and construction. The tunnel will emerge into a new deep lock replacing the original staircase locks leading from the River Irwell.

Two lines of concrete piles were sunk into the ground before construction of the relief road started. The sandstone rock between the piles was then excavated from beneath the finished roadway to form the tunnel.

The canal through the tunnel could be open to navigation later in 2008. It will lead to the restored Lock 3 and a stretch of canal as far as Oldfield Road. The canal will become the centrepiece of the Middlewood Locks development.

More photos of the work will appear on Pennine Waterways in the next few days. Please check back.

The excavator has broken through and construction workers from each side of the tunnel meet with a traditional hand shake!

Inside the new tunnel, looking towards the deep lock. There will be a landing on the right, with steps leading up to the lock side.

Wednesday 30 April 2008

Horse-drawn to Huddersfield

Members of the Horseboating Society are going to re-create the past of the waterways in May when they take the horse-drawn narrowboat Maria across the Pennines from Ashton to Huddersfield and back.

In addition to the boat being towed all the way by horse, it will be legged through Standedge Tunnel in the traditional manner!

The boat sets off from the Ashton Canal on Thursday May 1st, through Stalybridge to Mossley. The following day it will continue along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Uppermill, where it will be on show during Saturday.

On Sunday the boat will ascend the Diggle lock flight to Standedge Tunnel, to co-incide with the Diggle Canal Festival, alongside the top lock, where there will be traditional rope skills demonstrated, games, stalls, etc. Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas will help the boat up the locks.

Ashton MP, David Heyes, a member of the Parliamentary Waterways Group, will help to leg the boat through Standedge Tunnel. Energetic members of the public will be able to join the boat horse on a guided walk "over the top", across the moors to Tunnel End, Marsden.

Standedge Tunnel is the UK's longest canal tunnel, at more than 3 miles. The legging will take around 3 hours and will be done by pairs of leggers taking turns. The tunnel was built without a towpath and "legging" was the traditional means of propelling boats through tunnels.

"Maria" will be on show at Tunnel End on Bank Holiday Monday. The boat will continue its horse-drawn journey to Slaithwaite on Tuesday and to Huddersfield on Wednesday.

The return from Huddersfield to Slaithwaite will be on Saturday 10th May. The boat will climb the Marsden lock flight on 13th May.

On Wednesday 14th May, "Maria" will return through Standedge Tunnel, this time as part of a normal convoy, before continuing to Uppermill. The following day the boat will carry on to Staybridge and Ashton.

"Maria" is the oldest surviving wooden narrow boat, built at Marple in 1854. The horse being used for this journey is Bilbo Baggins. "Maria" was previously legged through Standedge Tunnel in July 2006 - the first boat to have been legged through for around 60 years! [report here]

Towpath Improvements in Lancashire

Improvements are under way on the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Burnley.

Two-thirds of a mile of towpath between Hapton and Shuttleworth Hall are having the pathway widened and finished with a waterproof stoned surface. This will improve safety and appeal to walkers and cyclists.

The £27,000 work is being funded by Lancashire Environmental Fund and Lancashire County Council.

The towpath work will add the finishing touches to a major repair programme along this stretch that has included strengthened the embankment.

Boaters have not been left out, as the works have included vegetation clearance and new mooring bollards.

The photo is looking eastwards towards Hapton from Shuttleworth Hall.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Monster Fish on Rochdale Canal!

The Middleton Guardian reports that a monster fish has been striking terror on the Rochdale Canal to the east of Middleton. [Read article]

Fisherman saw a large pike grab a duck near Scowcroft Lock, under the railway bridge known locally as the Iron Donger.

They threw stones at the pike and rescued the duck, which was then taken care of by a local woman.

The fishermen are warning youngsters not to dip their toes into the water or to jump from the bridge, as the pike has "piranha-like teeth" and can be vicious.

The photo shows a boat near the "Iron Donger" bridge.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Development Manager for Rochdale Canal

The Waterways Trust is to appoint a Development Manager for the Rochdale Canal.

The trust is looking to appoint "a talented professional to re-establish the canal as a community resource and catalyst for social and economic regeneration".

They are looking for someone who will "deliver projects that encourage people to value, care for and use their local waterway". This may be a challenging goal in some areas along the canal.

The Development Manager will build partnerships with a range of local organisations and provide stakeholders with regular progress updates.

The Waterways Trust took over ownership of the canal from the Rochdale Canal Company following the completion of the canal's restoration in 2002.

Details of the position may be found at The Waterways Trust website.

Monday 14 April 2008

Wall Collapse blocks HNC Towpath

A retaining wall collapsed onto the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal yesterday.

The towpath is closed between Locks 16w and 17w near Mossley until further notice. The canal remains open for navigation but crew operating locks will need to board their boats to pass the obstruction.

Walkers using the towpath will need to divert between Manchester Road Bridge and Division Bridge via Manchester Road and Calf Lane.

A wall collapse in March blocked the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal.