Pennine Waterways News

Monday 10 June 2019

Gate failure could close Rochdale Canal for weeks

A gate failure at Lock 66 on the Rochdale Canal in Failsworth may result in the lock being closed for several weeks. The incident, at Tannersfield Highest Lock, means that the whole flight of locks between New Islington and Failsworth is now shut.
The snapped mitre post at Lock 66.

The mitre post has snapped just above the water line. Initially CRT thought this was caused by boat impact but, as the lock was apparently full at the time, it is possible that the 21-year-old gate may have started to rot and weaken, with the pressure of water causing it to fail at a point where boats may have struck it in the past. It is likely that new gates will have to be made, which may take several weeks.
Dislodged and cracked anchor stone.

Of more concern is that the incident also dislodged and broke the anchor stone to which the gate was attached. It has shifted about an inch inwards toward the lock and cracks can be seen in several places. It looks likely that a new anchor stone will need to be crafted, as the existing stone may not have the structural strength to hold the gate safely in place.
Dislodged and fractured anchor stone.

Reports say that two boats had entered the full lock, the top gates closed and the crew were preparing to empty the lock when the nearside tail gate twisted, resulting in a sudden loss of water, with the boats dropping several feet. The gate has reportedly been twisting for some time, with the mitre posts not always lining up correctly. The gate originally had a wooden A-frame structure similar to the one in the photo below, but this was not reinstated when the locks were restored. The purpose of the frame was to stop gates twisting and to reduce the potential of the weight of water forcing the gates outward. (The slot in the anchor stone in the photo above was where the A-frame was positioned.)
Wooden A-frame supporting gates at Lock 8 in Hebden Bridge. Lock 66 originally had a similar frame.

An incident of a similar kind took place in 2003 at Lock 65, where a tail gate failed with two boats in the lock. In the same year tail gates also failed at Locks 25 and 30 near Walsden. The photo below, courtesy of Su and Mike Poole, shows the gate at Lock 30 after its failure.
Failed tail gate at Lock 30 in 2003. Photo: Su and Mike Poole.

The present closure of Lock 66 will inconvenience anyone planning to navigate the length of the Rochdale Canal. It is a particular problem to a number of historic boats which were returning from a rally in Hebden Bridge, and which are too long to leave the canal via the Calder and Hebble Navigation, with its shorter locks.

Update: Repairs have been completed and the lock is now open to navigation.

1 comment:

  1. I think the gates on the Rochdale have always been of lighter construction than either the Calder and Hebble or Leeds and Liverpool. The Rochdale Canal Trust who maintained the canal before the Waterways Trust became increasingly concerned at the potential for gates twisting and failing and so installed the a frames as a safety measure.


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