Pennine Waterways News

Saturday 28 February 2009

Video of Liverpool Canal Link

The structures of Liverpool's new canal link have now been completed and British Waterways are undertaking a period of testing in order to identify any problems so that these can be attended to before boaters are allowed through.

As part of this testing a British Waterways work boat has made a number of passages through the link.

On one of these journeys, a time-lapse video was made by Eddie Barford and Richard Williams. The video has been put onto the Liverpool Daily Post web site and can be viewed by clicking here.

Clicking the "full screen" button, just to the right of centre at the bottom of the video panel, will expand the image to fill your screen. Simply press the Escape key to return to the normal page.

Scene from Liverpool Link Video: Eddie Barford, Richard Williams

New photos of the Liverpool Canal Link will appear on Pennine Waterways web site next week, so please come back for a look!

Friday 27 February 2009

Boats To Go Through Standedge Under Own Power!

Standedge Tunnel re-opens for through boat passages on 30th March 2009, under the new system of boats going through under their own power.

Passages through the tunnel will take place on three days a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Three boats in each direction will be allowed into the tunnel on each of these days, at 45 minute intervals so that boaters will not be affected by the diesel fumes of other boats.

On board each boat will be a British Waterways "chaperone", a qualified tunnel pilot who will be there to supervise the passage and to offer advice. The boater may steer the boat the whole way if preferred, but the pilot would be available to steer the boat through tricky sections if the boater wished.

Boaters wishing to use the tunnel should book at least 24 hours in advance on 0113 281 6860 (Monday to Friday, 8.30 am - 4.30 pm). There are a limited number of passages available so it is advisable to book a slot as far in advance as possible. However, boaters should be aware that BW will charge £50 if a boater doesn't show up (unless they have phoned to cancel 48 hours or more in advance).

Deep inside Standedge Tunnel.

Pets will now be allowed to remain on board but they must be restrained (i.e. caged or tied) so that there is no possibility of them becoming alarmed and causing a distraction or safety problem.

Before entering the tunnel, boaters will be issued with hard hat and life jacket to be worn at all times in the tunnel by anyone outside on the boat. Each boat will also be issued with additional lighting for navigation.

Only boats that are within the specified craft dimensions (basically not more than 70 ft length, 6'10" beam, 3' 3" draught - a diagram showing the exact dimensions can be seen here) will be allowed into the tunnel. Fibreglass boats and petrol engined boats will not be permitted through the tunnel.

A new and improved communications system, which will allow the BW "chaperones" to stay in constant contact with the office base, has not yet been installed. Until this is in place, boats will pause at each adit (cross-passage through to the old railway tunnel) so that the BW pilot can call the base via the phone system, letting the tunnel controller knows where each boat is. A back-up van will be stationed near the middle of the tunnel in order to be able to respond to any emergency.

Boaters will now be able to work their own way up the locks at Marsden and Diggle. Lock 32e below Marsden will be unlocked at 8.30 am, with the last entry to the locks being at 3.30 pm. Boaters approaching from the east will make their own way up the locks on the day before they are booked to go through the tunnel.

Lock 24w of the Diggle Locks will be unlocked at 8.30 am and boats should make their way up on the day of their tunnel passage, to arrive at Diggle portal by 11.30 am.

Boats heading westwards will stop overnight at Marsden, although the first boat will have the opportunity of continuing down the Marsden locks, as long as they are through Lock 32e before 4.30 pm.

Boats will be allowed (as before) to come up the Marsden flight, without passing through the tunnel, to stay at Marsden for a couple of days before going back down. Booking is not needed, although BW says it would be helpful if boaters wishing to do that let them know of their intention.

Passenger Boat Trips Through Standedge Tunnel

Standedge Tunnel is to re-open for through boat passages at the end of March, this year with boats going through under their own power.

But there is still good news for you, even if you haven't got a boat! There will now be monthly through trips for passengers on the electric passenger module.

These trips will take place on the first Saturday of each month, starting on Saturday 4th April. The westbound trip leaves Tunnel End, Marsden at 9.00 am and the eastbound trip leaves Diggle at 1.00 pm. There will be a charge of £10 per person (£8 children and concessions) and places can be booked by ringing 01484 844298.

Passenger trip through Standedge Tunnel.

You can use bus number 184 to get back if you don't fancy making their return on foot over the moors - it runs hourly through Diggle and Marsden, passing the top of the lane leading down to Tunnel End.

The short trips into the tunnel from Tunnel End will operate as in previous years and will start again this year when the Standedge Visitor Centre opens on Saturday 4th April.

Virtual trip through Standedge Tunnel here.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Trolley Hot Line

Shopping trolleys and canals go together like fish and chips. Nobody is quite sure why trolleys are attracted towards water but they will sometimes turn up in canals and rivers miles from the nearest supermarket!

Trolleys are not usually appreciated by boaters, many of whom have had the experience of becoming stuck on top of one.

Now British Waterways is giving you the chance to fight back with the opening of a new Trolley Hotline.

A call to 01923 201120 or a visit to will allow members of the public to report sightings of abandoned trolleys in British Waterways' canals and rivers.

This information will be used to help recover trolleys, to map hotspot areas and to identify a league table of the nation's least and most environmentally responsible retailers.

Later in 2009, a 'Golden Trolley Award' will be presented to the retailer showing best environmental management of its trolleys, while an 'Off Your Trolley Award' will be presented to the least environmentally responsible retailer.

It is costing BW £150,000 a year to remove around 3,000 trolleys from its network. BW estimates that, if stacked on on top of another, these trolleys would reach ten times as high as Canary Wharf!

BW chief Robin Evans says: "Shopping trolleys are symbolic of the mindless pollution that takes place along our canals and rivers every year and quite frankly we are fed up with having to clean up after other people.

"Whilst some retailers have taken real steps to clean up their act, there remains a problem with thousands of dumped trolleys in our waterways each year. You would think that supermarkets have a vested interest in not losing their trolleys, but it seems they just write many of them off each year rather than actually tackling the issue."

IWA Chairman Clive Henderson says: "Some of the country's biggest household names should be doing more to protect the nation's waterway environment. Abandoned shopping trolleys are unsightly, costly to remove, and spoil the outlook for the millions of people who visit the waterways each year. They also cause costly damage to boats. Removal of these trolleys would also have a wider beneficial effect for the waterways. There is evidence to suggest that an improved environment changes behaviour."

British Waterways has written to each of the main retailers asking them to enter into a not-for-profit cost recovery agreement for shopping trolleys that BW recovers on their behalf.

Hang on a moment - according to page 8 of DEFRA's "Guidance on the Management of Shopping Trolleys", published in 2007, "British Waterways has powers under section 9 of the British Waterways Act 1983 to remove shopping trolleys from inland waterways and recover any costs incurred in connection with their removal." So why isn't BW using the existing legislation? Why is BW messing about setting up new agreements to recover costs?

Help stamp out Trolley Folly - report trolleys in canals on 01923 201120 or at

Photo: BW

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Moon Rescued from Canal

The moon has been rescued from drowning in the waters of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Slaithwaite this weekend!

But there was nothing to be concerned about, as this was part of the annual Moonraking Festival that takes place in Slaithwaite.

The tradition is based on a legend that some villagers had hidden a supply of "moonshine" alcohol in the canal. As they were about to retrieve their booty with a rake, an official from Customs and Excise is supposed to have arrived. It is said that the enterprising locals feigned stupidity and told the official that the moon had fallen into the canal and that they were trying to rescue it. It is said that the gullible Excise man walked away shaking his head at the daftness of the locals.

Similar legends are to be found in other parts of the country, but it nevertheless makes a good tale. It is also a good excuse for a bit of a celebration at a chilly time of the year.

A group of "moonrakers" dressed as spacemen pull an illuminated "moon" along the canal in Slaithwaite, watched by thousands of people filling Carr Lane. The moon is hoisted out of the canal by a cherry-picker, before being carried around the town, followed by a procession of hundreds of people carrying home-made lanterns.

When the procession arrives back at the canal the evening ends with a firework display.

Monday 23 February 2009

Calder and Hebble Update (Cooper Bridge and Shepley Bridge)

There is still no date for the re-opening of the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Cooper Bridge following the collapse of the weir there in January, however, BW has announced that work will start on March 10th.

British Waterways has been negotiating access to the weir from the adjoining land and obtaining the necessary consent to work in the river, whilst planning the works on site.

BW will issue a further update on the work at Cooper Bridge on 24th March.

This photograph from BW (below) shows the damage from a different angle than the photos shown here in January.

A planned stoppage above Shepley Bridge begins this weekend in order to replace flood gates and carry out other essential works at Ledgard Flood Lock, a mile or so downstream of Cooper Bridge.

This stoppage will be from 23rd February until 13th March and will mean the closure of the lock cut between Ledgard Lock and Shepley Bridge Lock. There will be no passage through Shepley Bridge Lock and this will locked to prevent use.

Thursday 12 February 2009

BW "Forges" Ahead with Lock Work

British Waterways has been taking advantage of the canals being quieter dring the winter period to carry out essential repairs and improvements to locks along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The photo (below) shows work being carried out at Forge 3-rise Locks, on the outskirts of Leeds.

New lock gates, made at the British Waterways' Stanley Ferry Workshop, are being fitted, as well as repair work to the floor of the lower lock chamber and replacement of the cills and quoins. The old gates, that have been in operation for 25 years, were taken by barge up the canal to the wharf at Rodley to be recycled. The new gates were then brought back down the canal to be installed.

New gate being lifted into place at Forge Locks. Photo: BW

BW's own staff have carried out the work, apart from an outside contractor being used for lifting the gates. The project will cost £200,000, which includes the cost of constructing a temporary footpath past the work site. The photograph shows how popular the route is with walkers.

Lock repairs, gate replacement and lock ladder installation has been taking place at other locks along the 127 mile long canal, as seen in the Winter Stoppage list.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Festival will Light up Snowy Standedge

The annual Imbolc Celtic Fire Festival is to be celebrated on Saturday 7th February at Standedge Tunnel, Marsden, and is just what is needed as the area shivers under a blanket of snow!

The spectacle, which has been held for 15 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 theatrical performances, a dazzling pyrotechnic display and fire sculptures.

This year's festival is set to be the biggest and best yet with live music from a local singing group, a fire circus and a battle not to be missed between Jack Frost and the Green Man, all set to keep the public sizzling through the night at Standedge.

James Dean, visitor services manager at Standedge, said: "This will be my first Imbolc Festival as manager of Standedge and from what I've heard it's an event not to be missed. I'm really proud that Standedge can call the festival home. It's set to be a fantastic night so we hope as many people can join us as possible."

A series of workshops have been ongoing throughout January at Standedge Visitor Centre where people have had the chance to learn some fire juggling skills and brush up on their performing skills in preparation for the festival.

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.