Pennine Waterways News

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.