Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Photograph of latest Huddersfield Narrow sinking

As reported here a few days ago, there was an unfortunate incident on Sunday in which a narrowboat sunk at Lock 9w on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

The photograph below was taken by local boater Peter Killan and shows that the boat was travelling uphill and was exiting the lock at the time of the incident. The short pound above the lock was low (which is fairly common) and the boat grounded on the head gate cill. It is reported that water was leaking out of the tail end of the lock and that the water level in the lock went down quickly. Before the boater, who is reported to have been single-handing, was able to remedy the situation, the stern of the boat had sunk below the water.

This week's sinking at Lock 9w. Photo: Peter Killan

There is a remarkable similarity to an incident which happened in the same lock two years ago in which a boat entering the lock became stuck on the cill and sunk as water levels dropped quickly.

The 2011 sinking at Lock 9w.

These incidents are worrying for boaters as something similar could happen to anyone. They are not, as many sinkings appear to be, the result of carelessness or inattention. Many boaters will wonder whether they could have done anything differently. Once the head gate is open, leaks at the tail of the lock mean the water level in the lock chamber and the short pound above may fall rapidly. Water can be run down from Lock 10w but the hydraulic paddles are fitted with anti-vandal locks and cannot be opened rapidly in an emergency.

Many boaters will be wondering what the Canal and River Trust has done to address the issues at this lock since the 2011 incident.

Boaters ascending Lock 9w would be well advised, if they see that the pound above the lock looks low (which is likely if they have just filled the lock), to run some water down from Lock 10w before attempting to exit Lock 9w. Boaters descending from Lock 10w should be prepared to run extra water down if the pound below looks low and should not attempt to enter the lock if levels are low.

(Running additional water down should be done with care, so as not to flood the towpath below or drain the pound above.)

More photos of the 2011 incident, including pictures of the recovery, can be seen here.


  1. Perhaps - water level boards so we know whether pound is "low"

  2. If people are unfamiliar with the canal they may not realise actually how shallow a pound actually is. Also people dont seem to understand that many of these locks are actually part of a flight of locks.
    over the last few days I have met boaters who have flooded pounds and been unaware of the connection between thier actions and the pound flooding, and a total disreagard also of the two locks between two boats advice. I met a couple of boats last weekend who flooded the whole tow path at lock 31 because they were travelling together and flooding all the pounds on the way down. this left two other boats moored high and dry later when the water reached it s usual low level!
    Perhaps Canal and river trust should make more effort to dredge the canal and also let boaters who do not know this canal that Narrow canal in this instance means .....very shallow!

  3. 3 volunteer lock keepers on duty at the same time at Salterhebble? Surely a volunteer in situ at this location would make more sense.

  4. Happened to us on the Marsden flight a few years ago whilst under BW supervision. Boat halfway out of the lock (going uphill) when the water level dropped suddenly leaving the boat perched on the upper cill. Luckily the boat slid backwards into the lock and shot the full length backwards until it met the bottom gates. Fortunately no injuries or damage - a lucky escape. A failed bottom gate wa blamed but if this is the cause again here why are more checks not being made - perhaps they should all be checked as a matter of priority before there is some personal injury

  5. It would appear that it takes time to learn the hard way that if you touch a cill one should panic! Those of us whom came to canals in the 50/60 knew all about this, when they werre not maintained at all, but those came later in their modern tin cruisers think that they can go anywhere without thinking! Its your boat look after it! Remember how much water you need and back off if you ground near a cill - disaster may be down the path.

  6. I would think the boat owner has a strong case for suing CART for the poor state of the lower lock gates.

  7. Tony - what evidence is there for this "poor state" being the reason for the sinking ? Could just as easily be boater error, especially if he had not closed the bottom paddles completely.


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