Pennine Waterways News

Thursday 28 February 2008

Canalside Railings Theft

Canal-side railings have been stolen by metal thieves at Sowerby Bridge.

A number of horizontal bars have been removed from the railings alongside the Rochdale Canal, near to Tuel Lane Lock.

British Waterways say: "The railings were not a priority for replacement as they did not form an integral safety aspect of the waterway."

There are, in fact, gaps in the railings to allow pedestrian access to the towpath, so no additional safety hazard has been introduced, but this would be different if railings were to be removed from alongside the lock, which is the deepest canal lock in England.

The photo (right) shows the railings before the theft.

Canal Protest Farmer Goes to Prison

A Rochdale farmer has been sent to prison following a further act of vandalism to the canal near his farm.

Christopher Jones of Maden Fold Farm, Castleton has been involved in a long-running dispute with British Waterways originating from the routing of the Rochdale Canal through a tunnel under the M62 that had previously been used for farm access. It was reported that Mr Jones was not happy with the alternative route provided, which included two new bridges across the canal.

In 2001, when the canal first re-opened, Mr Jones blocked Lock 53 with the arm of his fork lift truck as a protest. He made the news again in 2002 when he jumped into the water ahead of the boat carrying the VIPs to the official opening ceremony of the Rochdale Canal.

During 2007 a number of incidents occurred near Maden Fold Farm, including the canal bank being breached with machinery and the balance beams of the nearby lock being sawn through.

Balance beams sawn through, May 2007
In February 2007, Mr Jones was issued with a court injunction requiring him not to cause further damage to the canal. However, following a further incident in April, Mr Jones appeared in court in June and was given a 3-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, subject to his not breaching the injunction within that period.

Further damage to the canal was allegedly carried out in January, as a result of which, Mr Jones has now been sent to prison.

British Waterways has issued the following statement:
"Over the last 12 months Mr Christopher Jones of Maden Fold Farm has breached the Rochdale Canal with an excavator on a number of occasions.

British Waterways, acting on behalf of the Rochdale Canal Company and The Waterways Trust sought and obtained an injunction last year from Manchester High Court stopping him from interfering with the canal. Later in the year he was given a three month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for breaching the canal again.

He again breached the canal in January 2008, and yesterday (Monday 25 February) was found guilty of breaching the court injunction. The suspended sentence was lifted and he began his three month sentence. The court felt the Mr Jones had been given every possible generosity but that this had been rejected.

British Waterways has pursued this application after serious consideration, and has not taken these steps lightly. The organisation cannot condone actions of this kind which lead to damage of property, along with the high resultant costs to the tax payer. They are not wishing to be either vindictive nor malicious, but simply wish to peacefully operate the canal for the enjoyment of all users."

Monday 11 February 2008

Historic Wharf could be lost

A remote wharf on the Macclesfield Canal is at risk of being stanked off, drained and returned to nature.

Vaudrey's Wharf is a short arm off the Macclesfield Canal near Bridge 72, east of Conlgleton.

Photo: Tim Boddington
It was built in 1835 to serve Charles Vaudrey's Bath Vale mills. When the North Stafforshire Railway opened a line in 1860, passing under the canal nearby, the wharf became used as an interchange.

When the railway closed the track and the wharf passed into the ownership of Congleton Council. There have been long-term leaks from the arm through the embankment of the railway cutting but the council has not felt able to fund the repairs.

The leak is now more serious and, apart from being an unacceptable loss of water, there is also a potential risk of a breach on this nine-mile pound, threatening property in Congleton.

The canal arm is unusual in belonging to the council rather than British Waterways. BW was unwilling to take on the liability for the repairs. An agreement was being drawn up whereby the council would pay for the repairs and then BW would take over ownership.

BW was then forced to withdraw from the proposed agreement because funding cuts had left them without the necessary money.

Because the leak is a continuing threat to the Macclesfield Canal, BW is considering stanking off the arm at its own expense.

The result of this could be that the arm and wharf becomes overgrown making any future repais and restoration much more expensive, so the wharf could be lost for ever.

Follow this link for full details of the problem and possible solutions.

Friday 1 February 2008

Festival to Light up Standedge

The annual Imbolc Celtic Fire Festival is to be celebrated on Saturday 2nd February at Standedge Tunnel.

The spectacle, which has been held for 14 years, includes a torchlit procession, starting from Marsden Railway Station car park at 7.00 pm, along Reddisher Road to Tunnel End.

The crowds will be entertained by drummers, live music and spectacular fireworks.

Imbolc is a 2000 year old Celtic Festival which marks the first signs of spring, marking the time when the Earth begins to wake-up after its winter sleep. The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun.

Members of the public are asked not to bring dogs as the fireworks may distress animals.