Pennine Waterways News

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Burscough Stables - BW Response

It was reported here last week that canal historians and enthusiasts were dismayed to hear, at very short notice, that one of the old waterway stable blocks at Burscough was to be demolished.

Although local residents have been involved in consultations about the site, the wider waterways community was not included, which has caused some concern that yet another piece of waterways heritage is to disappear.

British Waterways' Development Surveyor, Ian Sprott, has made a detailed respose to the issues raised:
"At one time this building was a main BW office and yard on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. In recent times it has been used mainly for storage and a mess facility and British Waterways has been trying to identify a developer for the site for over 10 years.

"West Lancs District Council has identified Burscough as a key area of development and has spent a significant amount of money on environmental improvements in the town. They identified the Yard complex and the Council car park and library on the opposite side of the canal as key opportunities to assist in the regeneration of the town.

"In 2006 British Waterways and West Lancs District Council commissioned Brock Carmichael to undertake a Feasibility Study of these sites. Brock Carmichael worked closely with British Waterways, West Lancs District Council and Burscough Parish Council to identify potential uses for the properties. Brock Carmichael identified that complete demolition of the site and new build residential would provide the best end value but would not fit in with the client's objectives and would have a strong negative impact on the village. Other uses apart from residential would struggle to generate sufficient funds to make redevelopment viable. When this report was carried out, property market conditions were much better and even then, the view was that a non residential redevelopment of the
site would struggle to be viable.

"Having looked at potential uses for the site, the view from the consultants was that due to the size and layout of the stable block, it did not lend itself to conversion to other uses. As part of this work they also identified that there were signs of infestation in the timbers in the building and the cottage that forms the end of the stable block was in poor condition and the Southern wall was bowing significantly and appeared to separating from the inner masonry. In light of this, they suggested demolition of this building, to be replaced by a larger new
build which would be appropriate for alternative uses to assist viability and enable retention of other buildings on site. Accordingly, it was reluctantly agreed that demolition and new build would assist in retention of the remainder of the complex.

"Following completion of this Study, West Lancs District Council included
it in their consultation work on proposed works in Burscough.

"The Local Plan states "the reuse of the buildings could contribute positively to the regeneration of Burscough. The uses envisaged by the policy include community facilities (including meeting facilities or a relocation of the library), a heritage centre and other tourist / leisure facilities including possibly a café".

"The complex of buildings is not nationally listed and is not in a conservation area. It is locally listed as being of local or historical

"In 2008 the BW operational mess facility and storage were transferred to an alternative location and British Waterways began a re-marketing of the site. When the bids were made for the site, the preferred developer set out their proposed uses for the site. British Waterways and their agents reviewed this and considered this would secure the long term future of the majority of the Wharf complex and create a base for a mix of uses that would meet the aspirations of British Waterways, West Lancs District Council and the Parish Council. The site was sold in December 2008. The BW Heritage Assessment was provided to the developer.

"Following appointment of the developer British Waterways have been in discussions with them and also Burscough Moving Forward, who are heavily involved in bringing this opportunity forward. Burscough Moving Forward was established in 2006 with the primary aim of developing a range of partnerships to assist in delivering the aspirations of the community expressed in the Burscough Parish Plan in 2005. In discussions the developer has indicated how important they consider the complex to be within Burscough and has been keen to retain as much of the complex as possible. The poor condition of the cottage and stable block and existing layout has meant that it was not viable to retain these buildings. The proposal is to replace this with a new larger building in the same location which would help subsidise the retention of the rest of the buildings on the site. British Waterways is continuing to work with the developer on how the completed development will integrate with the canal.

"The developer submitted a planning application for the mixed use development which includes a restaurant, micro brewery, small scale retail and craft workshops, community use, office space and a gallery.

"As part of the planning process the Council consulted interested parties and the developer held an open day at the site on 22nd August to show their plans and take comment. The local Parish Council has been very involved with the developer and his proposals. Planning consent was granted and the Head of Planning and Building Services at West Lancs District Council stated about the cottage / stable block "The replacement of the building enables its redevelopment which will provide enhancement to an otherwise tired Burscough Bridge frontage and as a
result serve as a focal point from both road and canal approaches. On that basis I consider the proposal to remove the original building is acceptable.

Ian Sprott summed the situation up by adding "By developing it for a mixture of uses it will open the site up to the public and allow a linkage with the canal. Due to the lower values of a mixed use development the developer is demolishing the
stable block and is replacing it with a modern building suitable for commercial uses. The values generated by this will allow for the retention of the large warehouse, former barn and workshops.

"In our view, the proposal represents a compromise in order to safeguard
the majority of the buildings on the site which would otherwise have
continued to fall into disrepair."

The former stables to be demolished. For another photo, see earlier item. (Photo: Mike Clarke)

Saturday 27 March 2010

Wigan gets back to normal

Things are getting back to normal for boaters in the Wigan area this weekend.

The main Wigan Lock Flight (Locks 65 to 85 of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal) re-opened after being closed since the New Year. This lengthy stoppage was to enable additional lock ladders to be installed.

Recently the lower locks in Wigan, plus the two Poolstock locks on the Leigh Branch, have been padlocked because several pounds had been drained by vandals, including the mile long pound that passes Wigan Pier.

BW were unable to re-fill these pounds quickly because of a problem with the Scholes Feeder.

The pounds are now almost back to their usual levels and the use of the lock flight will help by sending additional water down into Wigan.

BW has not yet issued a re-open notice for the lower locks but several local boaters have told Pennine Waterways that boats are now on the move again.

This will be a huge relief to waterways businesses such as Kittywake Canal Cruises, who operate a trip boat from Wigan Pier, who have had to turn away disappointed parties who had booked trips, and working boats Ambush and Viktoria who deliver diesel and solid fuel to boaters moored along the canal.

BW is urgently repairing the sluices of Scholes Feeder, which is essential to top up the water levels in Wigan since there are locks going downhill in two directions from Wigan Junction near Henhurst Bridge, which could potentially leave the junction pound empty.

The Way It Should Be: Wigan Pier area with water.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Okay - Poo's Done This?

Canal towpath walkers and boat users will no doubt have seen trees and hedges that are festooned with plastic bags containing dog droppings.

Now British Waterways is appealing to dog owners to stop this practice. BW says the canal towpath, and the countryside in general, is becoming increasingly littered with the discarded bags.

BW "took the lead" today and, together with the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance group, dressed a canal-side tree on the Rochdale Canal with plastic bags to illustrate the problem.

BW's top dog, Robin Evans, commented: "It is great that people are picking up after their pet, but why put something that is biodegradable into a bag that isn’t and then chuck it into the nearest hedge? It just doesn’t make sense. Our message is simple, if you’re a dog owner visiting a canal or the countryside in general, clear
up after your pet and then dispose of the bag properly."

The "Dog Poo Tree" next to the Guillotine Lock in Todmorden. Photo: BW

Louise Harrison of Upper Calder Valley Renaissance, said: "Here in the Calder Valley we have some of the nation’s most beautiful countryside and it is barking
mad that people insist on spoiling it in this way. Hopefully the shocking sight of a beautiful tree entirely decorated with bags of poo will remind pet owners just how silly it is to discard of their dogs’ mess in this way."

BW points out that dog faeces normally takes just weeks to biodegrade, but plastic bags can take anything up to 500 years.


Tuesday 23 March 2010

More Heritage to Go?

A historic boat horse stable block is to be demolished at Burscough in Lancashire with concerned canal users saying they have been kept in the dark over the proposals.

The site at Burscough is of historical significance, comprising two stable blocks, harness room, warehouse, workshop, provender house, barn, office and two houses around a central yard.

The complex was built by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company in 1890 after the closure of the original horse department buildings, whenthe original canal terminus was moved back to Pall Mall.

As well as accommodating a number of the canal company's boat horses, the company's horse tackle was also made there.

The former stables to be demolished (Photo: Mike Clarke)

The buildings to be demolished are the larger of two stable blocks, which borders the main A59 road and had a workshop on its upper level, an adjoining canalside cottage and an outbuilding that has accommodated boaters' facilities. The stable block had been known to be in poor condition, possibly worsened by vibrations from the A59 running alongside.

The former stables seen from the road (Photo: Mike Clarke)

The buildings are understood to have been derelict for several years and the site was sold by BW to Thomas Guy Ltd in 2008.

It is proposed that a community facility will be built within a new three-storey building on the site of the stables and cottage. The other buildings would be re-furbished to incorporate retail uses, a micro-brewery and a restaurant.

Sue Day of the Horseboating Society wants the stable block either to be retained or, if unsound, to be re-built as before. “By retaining the building in its existing manner, people can see the way it was used.” Sue quotes an example of Stourport Basin, where one stall has been retained as a heritage interpretation area.

Although the site is no longer in the ownership of British Waterways, it is being cited as yet another example of a development that involves the loss of historic canal features. There has recently been much opposition to development proposals at Marsworth and Marple.

The developers, in their planning statement, insist that they have “consulted widely within the community”. Unfortunately this has not included the waterways community other that BW itself and BW did not publicise the proposals, with the result that waterway enthusiasts are once again feeling angry at not being involved or consulted.

Demolition of the stables and cottage is about to begin at Burscough so it may be too late for the belated protests to affect the outcome.

Diagram of Burscough Yard


Thursday 18 March 2010

Slow Recovery in Wigan

Water levels on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal through Wigan are recovering very slowly as BW struggles to find enough water, following acts of vandalism that drained several pounds last weekend.

The Wigan lock flight is currently closed for the fitting of additional lock ladders. An attempt to let water down from the top of the flight had to be stopped when it was causing levels to drop too far on that pound. BW would normally be able to top up the Wigan levels from the Scholes feeder, but this currently has problems and cannot be used.

BW says that, although water levels have increased slightly, the canal is still un-navigable for any craft. They say they are doing everything they can to restore the water levels as soon as possible and that the ground paddles remain locked to allow water levels to restore and prevent further incidents.

There are reports that men were seen removing trolleys and other scrap objects from the drained canal onto a lorry, presumably to sell for scrap. It is not known whether they were just taking advantage of the empty pounds or whether they were involved in draining them in order to do this. The police are investigating the matter.

Even though not many boaters are using the canal at the moment, with the stoppage on the Wigan flight still in operation, the empty pounds are having a major effect on local waterway businesses. Kittywake Canal Cruises, who operate a trip boat from Wigan Pier, are having to turn away disappointed parties who have booked trips. The working boats Ambush and Viktoria, based opposite Trencherfield Mill, are unable to travel to supply to supply solid fuel, diesel and calor gas to boats along the canal.

BW will issue a further update on Monday 22nd March. Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Photo: Richard Carpenter

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Swing Bridge Re-opens

Maghull Hall Swing Bridge on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been re-opened to navigation.

Damage to the road plate had meant that the bridge had to be isolated so that repairs could be made. The problem was reported here 9 days ago.

Engineers were working on the bridge today and repairs are now complete.

Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Maghull Hall Swing Bridge, crossed by Hall Lane

Tuesday 16 March 2010

No Boating in Waterless Wigan

Boaters in the Wigan area are currently finding that they are going no-where after vandals have drained sections of canal.

The mile-long pound between Bottom Lock (87) and Pagefield Lock (88), which is the level that passes through the famous Wigan Pier area, has been completely drained as a result of "anti-social behaviour".

BW says that its staff are working to restore water levels as soon as possible. It has been necessary to lock ground paddles to allow water levels to restore and prevent further incidents.

A section of the nearby Leigh Branch is also affected by a similar problem.

On top of these problems the Wigan lock flight, which should have re-opened this week following a stoppage to install lock ladders, will not now re-open until 26th March.

The Way It Was: Wigan Pier area with water.

Monday 15 March 2010

Standedge Re-opening Delayed (and Rochdale Summit)

Standedge Tunnel was due to re-open to visitors this weekend, but the date has had to be delayed by a week.

The Visitor Centre and boat trips into the tunnel will now be available from Saturday 27th March.

The attraction was due to re-open for this weekend but the electric tugs and passenger boats went off to Liverpool for repairs and maintenance, as reported here last month, but will not be back in time. The boats should have returned this week but BW has been let down by the contractor.

Anyone visiting Tunnel End this weekend will find the café open and volunteers from Huddersfield Canal Society will be providing boat trips along the canal between Marsden Station and Tunnel End, but there will be no tunnel trips!

[Click on image to see larger version. Click Back button to return here.]

Boaters wishing to take their own boats through Standedge Tunnel will have to wait a little longer as the eastern part of the canal is closed until 1st April to allow for completion of major repairs at Lock 14e.

Boaters hoping for an early trip over the Rochdale Canal summit will have a few days delay, as the section between Lock 17 and Lock 30, due to re-open on 26th March, will not now open until 29th March. The delays were due to additional piling work being needed at Stone House Bridge in order to stabilise the structure.

Friday 12 March 2010

One Macclesfield Stoppage Ends Early

British Waterways has announced that one of the stoppages on the Macclesfield Canal will now finish earlier than expected.

Repairs to Red Bull Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal, across the A50 at Kidsgrove, which had been scheduled to finish on 26th March, will now be completed on Saturday 13th March.

However, anyone thinking of making an early transit of the canal should be aware that repairs to Grimshaw Lane Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal at Bollington, are still scheduled to finish on 26th March.

Any enquiries regarding these stoppages should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

A list of the Winter stoppages in the area and any known alterations can be seen here:

Red Bull Aqueduct, Macclesfield Canal

Huddersfield Stoppage extended again

The stoppage which has closed the eastern half of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal since September has been extended yet again.

The major repairs at Lock 14e, Ramsden Mill Lock, Golcar, were scheduled to be carried out between 18th January and 23rd February, but BW announced that recent bad weather and additional work involved in fitting gates will mean that the work will not be complete until 26th March. However, BW now say that the stoppage will continue until Thursday 1st April.

The reason given for the further delay is that additional works were found to be necessary. These are the relining of the paddle culvert which has to be done to allow the lock to be reopened to navigation, and which must be done before the lock gate replacement work can be completed.

There have been long-term problems with leaks from this lock into the adjacent mill building but a more serious leak from the paddle culvert in September 2009 meant that this section of canal had to be closed. As repair work was already planned for the Winter stoppage period the eastern half of the canal has been closed since then.

The continuation of this stoppage will be bad news for local boaters, canal businesses and those who had hoped to make an early journey in this area.

Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 0113 281 6860.

Lock 14e at Golcar.

Monday 8 March 2010

Liverpool Cut Off by Bridge Closure

Liverpool remains cut off from the rest of the canal system following problems at Maghull Hall Swing Bridge last week.

British Waterways says that damage to the road plate means that the bridge has had to be isolated so that repairs can be made.

An update will be issued on Wednesday 10th March.

Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Maghull Hall Swing Bridge, crossed by Hall Lane