Pennine Waterways News

Thursday 30 April 2009

Further thoughts on proposed Canal Street fence

Following on from the item about the proposed "safety fence" along Canal Street in Manchester, reported earlier today....

Another point to be considered, which will affect most boaters, is that the access to Lock 86 for people operating the lock is by climbing over the wall and using the steps carved into a stone back alongside the lock.

The proposed fence would make it nearly impossible and certainly dangerous to climb over at this point.

The council seems to be unaware that this is the means of access to the lock, as its "Design Statement" incorrectly states "There are no access points to any of these landing stages from Canal Street".

Canal to be fenced off

A 3 ft 6 in high "safety fence" is to be erected alongside Canal Street in Manchester, next to the stone wall between the street and the canal. The fence will have stainless steel posts alongside the wall, curving to support a stainless steel rail above the wall, with the space between wall and rail filled by reinforced glass panels.

This follows a recommendation for improved safety measures by a coroner after the death of a man who had climbed down from the wall to rescue his stepson who had fallen into the canal. His stepson eventually climbed out of the water by himself.

The proposals for the fence, which will cost more than £200,000 to build, will be put to the city's planning committee shortly.

If the plan is approved, the fence will change the appearance of the historic canalside location. Unusually for a canal, the street itself forms part of the towpath. The wall betwen the street and canal is around 2 ft 6 in high, so as not to obstruct towing ropes, although it is lower in some parts.

The fence would make it impossible for boats to be horse-drawn along this section of the Rochdale Canal. The photo below shows that horse-drawn boats do occasionally use the canal and also demonstrates why the wall needed to be that height.

Although the need for safety is understood, many canal users are unhappy with the proposed fence, fearing it will be detrimental to the important and unique heritage value of Canal Street.

The design of the proposed fence can be seen here. Other documents relating to the proposals can be viewed here. Comments can be submitted here on the council's planning website. The public consultation period ends on 15th May.

Boathorse preparing to tow a boat out of the lock on Canal Street, Manchester. Photo: Bob Jervis

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Limited opening resumes at Salterhebble

Trouble-hit Salterhebble Guillotine Lock is to re-open to navigation on Friday 1st May, but with the same limited opening hours that were in operation before the attmepted repair.

From 1st May, the Guillotine Lock will be operated by BW staff during the following periods only:
• 9.00 am - 10.00 am daily
• 12.00 noon - 2.00 pm daily
• 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm daily

Electrical problems occurred with Salterhebble Lock in May 2008 and since then the guillotine has been manually operated by BW staff at certain times each day. The lock ahas been closed for the last week and, although it was hoped repairs would have been complete by 24th April, unforseen problems mean that the guillotine will still have to be operated by BW staff.

BW will issue a further update on Friday 8th May.

For enquiries about Salterhebble Guillotine Lock, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

British Waterways Proposes Re-structure

British Waterways has today launched its vision for its future, entitled "Twenty Twenty - a Vision for for the Future of our Canals and Rivers".

This is the result of a major strategic review that has taken place and follows the government's decision to allow BW to retain its successful property portfolio.

The plans include increasing efficiencies, opening up new funding and partnership opportunities, creating closer links with local communities and the start a move towards the waterways achieving a 'third sector' trust or charitable status similar to that of the National Trust.

As a first step towards greater efficiency, BW proposes a restructure of its own operations in England and Wales, by removing an entire layer of management and creating eleven new, smaller, 'hands-on' waterway units. The move would make around 100 office staff redundant, but the £10 million annual saving would be redirected towards waterway maintenance.

Under the new structure, BW would put a greater emphasis on working with volunteers and local communities.

BW Chief Executive, Robin Evans, said: "Our absolute priority must be to maintain investment in the waterways and this means reducing spending elsewhere. Our proposed new structure will both redirect important funding to essential maintenance work but also make us much more responsive to customers and partners."

In the longer term, BW calls for some fresh thinking about what the waterways mean to Britain and how their sustainable future might be secured. It proposes that, by 2020, it should become a third sector 'public interest company' or trust. BW believes that such a change could stimulate greater participation in the waterways by volunteers and other individuals, enhance openness and accountability for communities and waterway users, create opportunities for new sources of income such as grants and donations, and ensure the historic network is held in trust for the nation.

For the area covered by Pennine Waterways website, the proposed changes would result in smaller North West and Yorkshire units, based at the existing Wigan and Leeds offices, and a new Peak and Pennine unit, which could include the Huddersfield Narrow, Rochdale and Peak Forest Canals, based at Northwich.

Extract from BW map of proposed new units

Pennine Waterways comment:
While a Peak and Pennine unit sounds like a good idea, basing its offices at Northwich seems ludicrous! If the aim is for the unit to be more in touch and responsive, running it from the extreme western edge of the area will not achieve that. For example, Standedge Tunnel is closer to both Wigan and Leeds. It can certainly be argued that the present areas are too large - I was told by a boater who phoned Wigan to report a problem with a lock on the Ashton Canal that the person on the other end said "There's already somebody on their way - it's at Marple, isn't it?" An office at Northwich will not stop that sort of thing happening. Somewhere between Manchester and Marple would be more appropriate!

BW says that the exact boundaries of the new units are to be subject of consultation, so perhaps their office locations are, too?

More information about BW's proposals can be found on its website, here:
The document "Twenty Twenty - a Vision for for the Future of our Canals and Rivers" can be downloaded here.

What do you think? Add your own comment below.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Ashton Stoppage Continues

It was reported last Thursday that there was a stoppage on the Ashton Canal after wire had become entangled around the tail gate of Lock 8 at Clayton.

The stoppage has now been extended until at least May 1st.

BW said: "Following on from the de-watering and fish rescue, significant repairs are required to the tail gate cills and lock floor. As this is a listed structure, consent will be required by Manchester City Council's Conservation Officer before any significant undertakings can be implemented."

BW will issue a further update on Friday 1st May.

Monday 27 April 2009

Leaking Culvert Holds up Huddersfield

Boaters on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal face an unwelcome hold-up this week as British Waterways plug a leaking culvert.

There was what BW describe as "a severe leak" into a culvert that passes below the canal near Sandhill Cottages and Cellars Clough Mill, between Locks 31e and 32e. BW staff have put several loads of clay into the hole but the leak continues. They will probably need to de-water the pound to make an effective repair. It is hoped that boats can be moving again by the end of the week.

Because the winding hole at Booth is on the affected pound, BW are advising boaters thatthere is no passage beyond the winding hole below Lock 22e in Slaithewaite.

The Horseboating Society was intending to take a horsedrawn boat down from Marsden to Huddersfield and back this week, but this part of their journey has been called off and the historic horsedrawn boat Maria will stay at Marsden until Sunday, when she is scheduled to be legged back through Standedge Tunnel on her way back to Ashton.

Boaters hoping to travel along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal should contact BW on 0113 281 6860 for the latest information.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Cellars Clough

It is understood that the western part of the Huddersfield Narrow is to be closed below Lock 8w on May 1st and May 20th to enable BW to erect and remove scaffolding, so that they can work on the pylon that straddles the canal. More details when a stoppage notice is received.

Friday 24 April 2009

Salterhebble Repairs Hit Snag

Salterhebble Guillotine Lock, on the Calder and Hebble Navigation, should have been closed for a couple of days this week to enable the electrical mechanism to be repaired. However, unforeseen circumstances have delayed the completion of this repair and the lock will remain closed until at least Monday afternoon.

Electrical problems occurred with Salterhebble Lock in May 2008 and since then the guillotine has been manually operated by BW staff at certain times each day. It had been hoped that the repair would have been complete by today (24th April) but the stoppage will continue until at least Monday

BW will issue a further update on Monday 27th April.

For enquiries about Salterhebble Guillotine Lock, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Wire causes Ashton Canal stoppage

The Ashton Canal is currently closed following heavy duty wire becoming entangled in a loack gate.

On Tuesday a problem was reported after a length of heavy duty cable became wrapped around part of a tail gate, preventing the gate from being operated.

Following investigation it has been discovered that "significant damage" has been caused to the tail gate and lower cill. Repairs will require a full dewatering of the pound between Locks 7 and 8 (a long pound, unfortunately).

BW is awaiting consent from the Environment Agency to carry out a fish rescue, so the canal is likely to remain closed for the next few days.

BW will issue an update on Tuesday 28th April.

This stoppage will affect boaters travelling around the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Boathorses and Cuckoos at Standedge!

Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre will be hosting a variety of events and activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy as part of this year's Cuckoo Festival.

The Cuckoo Festival, held on Saturday 25th April this year, celebrates the first arrival of the Cuckoo and the beginning of Spring. It is a popular local festival and a major highlight in the Marsden event calendar. The cuckoo heralded the start of the warmer weather and legend has it that the people of Marsden built a huge wall to try to prolong the cuckoo's visit!

Activities on the day, starting at 10.00 am, include pond dipping, canal craft sessions, face painting, clog dancing and Morris dancing. There will be guided nature and heritage walks, organised by British Waterways and the Huddersfield Canal Society, starting from the Station car park at 11.00 am.

The day finishes with a fun and lively evening's entertainment at Marsden Mechanics Hall.

In addition, members of The Horseboating Society will be re-enacting the historic practice of legging through Standedge Tunnel. On board will be special guest Ronnie Barnes, aged 90, who is the last surviving Standedge Tunnel 'legger'. He will be travelling through the tunnel on the traditional horseboat Maria, built in 1854. The boat is expected to exit the tunnel at Tunnel End at around 4.00 pm.

Meanwhile Bilbo the Boathorse, having hauled the boat up from Ashton, will walk over the top, as did the boathorses of old. The crew will start legging Maria from the Diggle end at around 1.00 pm. Energetic members of the public are welcome to walk over the top with Bilbo, arriving at Tunnel End at around 3.00 pm.

Look out for Maria being horse-drawn down to Huddersfield and then back to Marsden in the following week. The boat will be legged back through Standedge Tunnel on Sunday May 3rd, starting at around 1.00 pm. Details of the journey are on

Take a Virtual Journey along the Liverpool Canal Link!

Pennine Waterways website now has a new "Virtual Journey" along the recently-opened Liverpool Canal Link.

The series of photographs takes you from Stanley Dock through to Salthouse Dock by way of the two new locks and three new tunnels.

You can see locations in a way that can only be seen from a boat.

The Virtual Journey along the Liverpool Canal Link starts here.

The Virtual Journey along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Wigan to Liverpool has been completely revised, with over 200 new photos. You can see that here.

Information of help to boaters wishing to travel along the Link can be found here.

Monday 20 April 2009

Liverpool Canal Link opens for business!

Today was the first day of routine operation for the Liverpool Canal Link.

A few weeks ago a convoy of boats passed through the link in a flurry of publicity as part of the official opening of the link. However, there was still some finishing-off to be done before the link could be opened up for daily use.

That daily use started today, with four narrowboats and one wide beamed boat travelling down from Eldonian Village, where they had moored overnight, down the four locks of the Stanley Dock branch, through Stanley, Collinwood and Salisbury Docks, then through Trafalgar, East Waterloo and Princes Dock, through a new lock and tunnel to the much-photographed section across the Pier Head.

The boats then passed through a new lock into Canning Dock, before travelling through the famous Albert Dock to reach the new mooring pontoons in Salthouse Dock.

Up to six boats a day (7 days a week) will travel down into Salthouse Dock. As boats may stay there for up to 14 days, it is expected that the new floating mooring pontoons will fill up, which is one reason for there being a limit of six boats a day.

More information about how the movement of boats into Liverpool will operate can be read here. Anyone wanting to take a boat to Liverpool needs to phone BW in Wigan (01942 405700) to book a date for their passage and to book a mooring space.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Pomona Lock charge increases

Boaters using Pomona Lock, off the Bridgewater Canal, will now pay an increased charge of £21 a boat.

Boats returning through the lock on the same day will only be charged a single fee. The charge will not apply to Bridgewater Canal licence holders.

Pomona Lock connects the Manchester arm of the Bridgewater Canal with Pomona Lock, the Upper Reaches of the River Irwell, Salfoprd Quays and the Manchester Ship Canal. Boaters wishing to reach the newly re-opened Middlewood Locks section of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal need to use Pomona Lock.

Thursday 16 April 2009

First Tree Blockage of the Season

Only a little over a week since the Lower Peak Forest Canal was re-opened to navigation after a month-long stoppage, caused by an oil pollution incident, there was another problem today.

The high winds of the last couple of days brought down a tree between bridges 9 and 10, between Woodley Tunnel and Hyde.

BW were quick off the mark and sent contractors to the site this afternoon and the blockage was removed by tea time.

The navigation has now re-opened.

In previous years there have been a series of trees blowing down at various locations around the region and sometimes they are not cleared as swiftly as this. The possibility of this happening, especially during windy periods, should be borne in mind by boaters planning a tight schedule for their journey!

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Lower Peak Forest Re-opens

Marple Locks and the Lower Peak Forest Canal are to re-open to navigation today, Tuesday 7th April.

The canal between Dukinfield and Marple has been closed for the last month following an oil pollution incident, which is believed to have originated from a site in Hyde, when an underground storage tank was ruptured.

Although some oil was visible on the surface, much of the heavy lubricating oil has sunk to the canal bed.

British Waterways' staff will continue to monitor the canal during the first few days of reopening to ensure that no significant quantities of residual oil are disturbed.

There have been no reports of any dead fish on that section of canal although the RSPCA were called out to deal with ducks and geese who had to have their feathers cleaned.

Navigation of the Cheshire Ring circular canal route is now once again possible.

See photographs of canal during closure.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Standedge Tunnel season starts

Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre opens its doors for 2009 this weekend. The popular passenger trips into the tunnel also begin again today (4th April).

New this year are trips right through the tunnel for passengers on the first Saturday of every month. The 3 hour trip is good value at £10! Places must be booked by phoning 01484 844298.

The tunnel opened for the 2009 season for the passage of private boats last week. A new system whereby boats are steered through under their own power by their own skippers (rather than be towed by electric tugs) came into effect. Reports suggest that this has gone well so far.

Each boat carries a BW "chaperone" to ensure safety and to give advice on navigation difficult sections of the tunnel.

For full details of the new arrangements for taking boats through the tunnel see this item that was published in February.

For more information about the tunnel trips or visitor centre, including times and days of opening, please refer to the Standedge web site. That site also gives information for boaters wanting to take their own boats through.

The Standedge Tunnel pages of Pennine Waterways have been updated, including an improved photographic journey through the tunnel.