Pennine Waterways News

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.

Yet Another Restriction at Plank Lane

Boaters face yet another restriction at trouble-hit Plank Lane Lift Bridge on the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

As a result of an electrical fault, the bridge will be operated manually by BW staff. There will be just 3 opening periods each day until further notice:
• 9.00 - 10.00 am
• 12.00 noon - 1.00 pm
• 3.00 - 4.00 pm

Boaters arriving at the bridge are required to moor up and notify the bridge keeper of their presence and await further instructions.

The restrictions will continue until the essential repairs can be carried out. A further update notice will be issued once the contractors have assessed the structure.

In March, the bridge was closed to boat traffic for around 24 hours after a barrier was damaged. In 2006, the bridge was closed for some time after the counterweight fell off. [see report and photos].

Enquiries about the current restrictions should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Friday 11 April 2008

Police Seek Burnley Blockage

Following a series of stone-throwing incidents at Burnley Embankment, police are asking for the canal across Yorkshire Street aqueduct to be "gated off".

Youngsters recently threw stones at traffic from the aqueduct which carries the Leeds and Liverpool Canal across this busy road midway along Burnley Embankment. A bus and a car had their windscreens smashed.

The Burnley Citizen reports that police are to meet with British Waterways "to try to get them to gate off the section of the canal where the viaduct goes over Yorkshire Street".

It would be a serious reduction in public access and an alarming precedent if the towpath across the aqueduct were to be blocked off.

The dangerous stone-throwing behaviour in the area is not limited to the aqueduct and there have been a number of similar incidents at the nearby Gannow motorway roundabout.

Boaters have commented that the police do not take the same interest when youths throw stones at boats from road bridges.

Friday 4 April 2008

Rochdale Canal Re-opens

The Rochdale Canal has finally been re-opened between Locks 53 and 54 following vandalism to the bank in January.

Following the incident, local farmer Chris Jones was sent to prison for 3 months for breaching an earlier court injunction banning him from interfering further with the canal bank. [See earlier report]

The canal has remained closed since then until British Waterways engineers could arange access to the private land to inspect the damage and assess the safety of the canal.

Engineering assessments to inspect the canal have now been completed and the canal will re-open to navigation on Saturday 5th April 2008.

The photograph (above) of the location in January shows the repairs to the earlier breach and the disturbed bank to the right.

Boaters wishing to travel between Manchester and the Summit will need to phone BW on 01942 405700 to book passage through locks 83 to 65 and locks 37 to 36.