Pennine Waterways News

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.