Pennine Waterways News

Monday 25 June 2012

Rochdale Canal remains blocked after floods

[Scroll down to see updates.]
The Rochdale Canal will remain closed for several more days following last Friday's flooding. There are also several blockages to the towpath.

Stranded boat near Hebden Bridge

The most serious problem for boaters is a boat blocking the canal near Hebden Bridge. As river levels rose rapidly, a torrent of water flooded onto the canal below Lock 12. A section of towpath was ripped up by the water and a moored boat was torn from its mooring pins and carried half a mile down the canal. The boat was then swept onto an overspill weir and was left stranded across the canal, with its bow resting on the overspill weir and its stern embedded in the opposite bank. Fortunately there was no-one on board the boat at the time.

British Waterways staff are assessing how the boat can be re-floated and the canal will remain closed to through navigation until this has been achieved.

Stranded boat near Hebden Bridge

BW staff are checking structures to assess whether the rest of the canal can be re-opened. It would appear that damage is confined to the towpath, with several sections being washed away.

Below Lock 12, where the towpath is separated from the river by a stone boundary wall, the river rose higher than the towpath, broke down a section of wall and washed away a length of towpath.

Boundary wall and towpath washed away below Lock 12

Meanwhile the river sections of the Calder and Hebble Navigation remain closed and boaters have been instructed not to open the flood gates.

Important update, Monday 25th June, 4.30 pm:
British Waterways say they are pleased that the main lock structures that have been checked appear to be unaffected by flood damage. However, most of the locks between Locks 11 and Lock 19 have been affected to some extent by erosion and the build up of materials at the lock landings making the locks unsafe to use in their current condition.

The navigability of the channel has not yet been tested, and it is possible that there may be new sand bars or underwater obstacles preventing passage.

BW say it is not clear when they can re-open the canal and warn that people should plan for the canal remaining closed for a period of a few weeks.

In addition to the washed-away sections of towpath mentioned above, BW warn towpath users that much of the towpath between Locks 11 and 19 is covered in a thick silt that is very slippery and walkers are advised to find alternative routes.

Update, Tuesday 26th June, 9.30 am:
The Calder and Hebble Navigation is now open to navigation again. BW staff are opening the flood gates but it could be several hours before these have all been opened.

Update, Wednesday 27th June, 3.00 pm:
The following sections of the Rochdale Canal are now open to navigation:
- between Lock 1 Sowerby Bridge and Lock 9 Hebden Bridge.
- from Lock 17 Todmorden westwards
Winding is available by the dry dock below Lock 9 in Hebden Bridge and at Baltimore Marina above Lock 17 in Todmorden.
The canal is navigable between Locks 9 and 11 but there is no winding point available.

The canal remains closed between Lock 11 and Lock 17.
The boat pictured above is still blocking the canal. BW is hoping to be able to move it tonight. The channel has not been tested. There was severe damage to towpaths in this area so the channel may be obstructed with sand bars and dislodged masonry.

When the stranded boat has been removed BW will start a system of assisted passages between Locks 11 and 17. In many instances it is not possible to bring a boat in to the lock landings because of silt and other debris washed into the canal.

BW will issue information about these assisted passages in the next few days. Even once this section has been re-opened, boaters should proceed with care as there may be unexpected obstructions below the water.

Update, Thursday 28th June, 1.00 pm:
The stranded boat was refloated in the early hours of this morning using a large crane positioned across the river on Burnley Road. It was done at this time as a road closure was required. The canal between Locks 11 and 17 remains closed until BW puts into place a system of assisted passage. The lock landings of many of these locks are inaccessible because of silt or debris that has been washed into the canal. BW will issue an update about assisted passage shortly.

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