Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Wigan Waterless Once More

Boaters intending to use the Wigan lock flight of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal have been once again hit by problems with low water levels.

This time it would seem that acts of vandalism have caused the lock flight to become unnavigable. The whole of the lock flight is closed, along with Pagefield and Ell Meadow Locks below Wigan (Locks 65 to 89).

Teams from British Waterways will be working throughout the day to re-water the flight.

Any enquiries about this stoppage should be made to British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Wigan flight

Thursday 24 May 2012

Barrowford Stoppage

An emergency stoppage has been announced on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Barrowford lock flight.

Lock 50, the second lock up the flight, is closed for repairs to the cill and tail gate.

BW will issue an update tomorrow, 25th May.

Any queries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Update, 25th May, 4.00 pm:
It has been discovered that the heel post and paddle of Lock 50 are damaged, requiring further work. The lock will remain closed to navigation. BW will issue a further update on Monday 28th May.

Update, 28th May, 2.30 pm:
A temporary repair has now been made and the lock has re-opened to navigation.

However, Barrowford lock flight will be closed again on Thursday 31st May to allow the faulty paddles on this lock to be replaced.

Looking from Lock 51 to Lock 50, Barrowford

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Another Wigan Stoppage

Boaters on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal face another stoppage in the area. This time it is at Lock 90, Ell Meadow Lock, just west of Wigan.

Ell Meadow Lock was closed today (23rd May) so that BW staff can carry out an investigation and repair work on faulty ground paddles.

The length of the stoppage is not yet certain, but an update will be issued tomorrow, Thursday 24th May.

Update 24th May, 2.30 pm:
Repairs are complete and the navigation has re-opened.

Ell Meadow Loc, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Rochdale Stoppage at Sowerby Bridge

The Rochdale Canal is currently closed between Lock 1 and Tuel Lane Lock 3/4 in Sowerby Bridge, and will remain closed tomorrow and Thursday.

Water is leaking from the canal into an adjacent property and urgent pointing work needs to be carried out. The canal will be closed between Lock 1 and Tuel Lane Lock 3/4 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Normal passage is expected to resume on Friday morning, 25th May.

Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

Update, 23rd May, 4.30 pm:
The pointing work has been completed and the navigation has now re-opened.

Lock 2, Rochdale Canal, Sowerby Bridge

Monday 21 May 2012

Why the Huddersfield Narrow is still closed

This year's boating season has not got off to a good start on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Firstly there was the delay in re-opening Lock 20w after grouting had seeped up through the lock floor and prevented the gates from moving. Then a boat sinking in Lock 1w took several days to sort out. Now Lock 1w is closed yet again as emergency repairs are carried out.

What at first look appeared to be a problem with the tail gate hydraulic paddles then seemed to be damage to the lock chamber floor and lower cill. Finally there was found to be extensive cracking in the heel posts of the bottom gates, so that the lock could not be filled. This necessitated the gates being taken off so that repairs could be carried out.

All this is very unfortunate but understandable.

The gates have now been repaired and are back in position. However the lock cannot yet be re-opened. The reason is clear when you look at the photograph below. It seems that health and safety requirements mean that no work can be done at a lock that has been drained unless the lock chamber is completely surrounded by scaffolding railings. The work may be finished but BW now need to wait for the scaffolding contractors to come back and remove the scaffolding. So, instead of the waiting boats being able to get through tonight (Monday), they are having to wait until Wednesday afternoon!

Lock 1w, Huddersfield Narrow Canal this afternoon

(Click on image for larger view, click Back button to come back to this page.)

I wonder if anyone has any statistics showing how many BW staff or other people have fallen into locks that have been drained for repairs. I suspect the numbers might be very low, if not non-existent!

Of course, these problem with the gates at Lock 1w would not have happened had the gates been replaced as planned three years ago. The gates and the paddles are operated remotely by windlass-operated hydraulics and are very slow and heavy work. There is also a serious safety issue in that the paddles cannot be closed quickly in an emergency. They were due to have been replaced with new gates with ratchet paddles and crooked beams, like the ones that replaced the similar hydraulic gates at Lock 2w.

However, in order for these beams to be operated, it was necessary to retrieve a small piece of land from the site that BW was renting to a garden centre. This seemed to be something that BW's legal eagles were not able to sort out with any speed. I understand the latest position is that BW has sold the land to the garden centre, minus the bit that is needed for the balance beam sweep. Nothing appears to have changed on the ground, though. The new gates have not been fitted, with the result that the heel posts on these really old gates have failed and required costly repairs.

Update, 23rd May, 4.30 pm:
The work at Lock 1w has been completed and the navigation has now re-opened.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Tesco and BW reach Trolley Agreement in Stalybridge

Boaters will be pleased to hear that Tesco and British Waterways have come to an agreement over the long-running problem of trolleys in the canal in Stalybridge.

Rubbish in the canal, particularly trolleys, has been seen to be a deterrent to boaters using the waterway. This is depriving the town from enjoying more visits by boats with the consequent loss of trade, and the town being less attractive to visitors. The "Stalybridge Town Team" sees attracting boaters and visitors to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal as a crucial part of its plans.

In the past three years more than 200 trolleys have been retrieved from this stretch of the canal, taking British Waterways resources away from other projects. Even fitting trolleys with devices so that the wheels lock if they are pushed over a line has failed to solve the problem.

Working in partnership with Tesco, British Waterways have now agreed to make regular visits to the stretch of the canal to keep it clear of trolleys and other debris – with the clean-up costs being met by Tesco!

BW's David Baldacchino said: "Litter is a huge problem for the waterways, especially when people are using the canal as a dumping ground for litter and - at this particular location - shopping trolleys. 

"We have been working closely with Tesco to try and reach a solution to this on-going problem which is spoiling the environment and causing damage to boats. I am pleased that we have agreed to carry out regular clean-ups with the help of Tesco.

"The new Canal & River Trust will be calling on the help and support of the local community in Stalybridge to get involved with their local waterway by volunteering and helping care for their canal."

Anna Wisnoiwski, manager of Tesco Stalybridge, said: "We work hard to ensure that our trolleys are collected and secured every night. We are always looking for new ways to prevent trolleys being stolen and we're grateful to customers who make us aware of abandoned trolleys, as it enables us to collect them quickly. We are pleased to join British Waterways in this new initiative to help keep Stalybridge canal clean and safe for everyone to enjoy."

Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, welcomed the agreement, saying: "Given its picturesque location next to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Stalybridge should be attractive to tourists and to shoppers, as well as being an ideal place to spend a day out. But far from being an attraction, debris in the canal can make it an eyesore and discarded shopping trolleys can make it hazardous for boaters.

"I have been talking to Tesco and British Waterways about this issue for a number of weeks and I am delighted that they are now taking such an active role to clear up the canal.

"Taking action to ensure the water is clear of debris will help to make it a much more attractive destination for boaters, as well as those looking for a stroll along the towpath.

"Supermarkets are clearly not responsible for the anti-social behaviour of those who think it is acceptable to dump litter and trolleys in this way. But the canal-side location of this particular store makes it a particular problem in Stalybridge, so I am pleased that British Waterways and Tesco are taking this pro-active approach."

There have been many reports of boats becoming stuck on trolleys in this area. It was recently learnt that one boater could not get past the trolley reef and turned back. The canal through Stalybridge has a concrete bottom. A boat cannot push trolleys into the mud, as can happen at other locations, and so, depending on the draught of the boat, a trolley here can be an impassible obstacle.

We look forward to hearing of similar agreements being made with other stores elsewhere!

With trolleys on the footbridge across the canal include, from left, Tesco's Anna Wisnoiwski, local MP Jonathan Reynolds and BW's David Baldacchino. Photo: Jason Prince

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Queen Takes Canal Trip in Burnley

The Queen went for a boat ride in Lancashire today as part of her Jubilee Tour.

Her Majesty, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, took a trip along part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Burnley, visiting the Weavers' Triangle industrial heritage area, which is being regenerated with the support of six of Prince Charles' charities, including the Prince's Trust. The royal party visited the Prince's Charities Regeneration Summit which was taking place in the Weavers' Triangle.

The Queen previously visited Burnley 25 years ago.

The Royal Family on board the boat in Burnley. Photo: Janet Stansfield

Thanks to Janet Stansfield for the use of her photo. You can see her other images of the Queen in Burnley here.

Monday 14 May 2012

Half Day Wigan Stoppage

A half-day stoppage will affect all locks in Wigan tomorrow morning.

The entire Wigan flight, from Lock 65 to Lock 88 on the main line, along with the two Poolstock locks on the Leigh Branch, will be closed from midnight tonight until 12.00 noon tomorrow, 15th May.

This is because BW is installing and commissioning a new SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) device above Lock 88 and it is necessary to make careful measurements of the water flow when there are no boat movements. The SCADA device will enable BW to monitor water flows and help to reduce problems with water levels.

During the period of closure, padlocks will be placed on Locks 88, 87, 86, 85, 65 and lock 1 of the Leigh Branch to prevent operation. BW has asked that any boats moored between these locations remain berthed during the period.

Additional stoppage: Burnley
On Wednesday 16th May, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be closed (towpath and navigation) between Bridge 129B and Bridge 130E, where it passes through the Weavers Triangle area of Burnley. The closure will be between 7.00 am and 1.00 pm and is at the request of the Police to allow a visit by the Queen and Prince Phillip to the Weavers Triangle.

Lock 87, Wigan

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Huddersfield Canal closed in Ashton

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is currently closed at Lock 1w at Whitelands in Ashton under Lyne following a hydraulic gate paddle failure.

The gate paddles on this lock are hydraulically operated from remote winding gear, as seen in the photo. BW says that repairs will be carried out tomorrow morning (Thursday).

An update will be issued on Thursday 10th May.

Boaters intending to use this lock should moor in Stalybridge or at Portland Basin until the lock has re-opened.

Important Update, 10th May:
BW staff have found that the problem with the lock seems to be due to damage to the lock chamber floor and lower cill. The stoppage has had to be extended. The works are expected to be completed on Tuesday 15th May. Watch for further update. Westbound boats should not proceed beyond Stalybridge until the lock is re-opened.

Further Important Update, 15th May:
BW reports that investigations yesterday and today have revealed significant damage to the heel posts of the gates of Lock 1w. Because of extensive cracking in the heel posts, it is not possible to fill the lock enough to let boats through the upper gate. (The water leaks out at the bottom faster than it comes in at the top.)

BW say that the gates need to be removed in order to carry out the repairs. The work has started and it is hoped that the lock will be re-opened on the evening of Wednesday 23rd May. BW will give a further update on Monday 21st May.

Update, 23rd May, 4.30 pm:
The work at Lock 1w has been completed and the navigation has now re-opened.

Lock 1w,Huddersfield Narrow Canal