Canal News August to December 2008

Ashton Canal finally re-opens

Lock 17 Ashton Canal
Lock 17, Ashton Canal

December 12th 2008

The Ashton Canal has finally re-opened to through navigation after being closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

The canal was closed on 15th October after damage to the gate caused its operation to be considered dangerous. British Waterways staff investigated whether it could be quickly repaired but found that a new gate was required. A new gate was ordered to be manufactured as soon as possible.

British Waterways issued a stoppage notice warning that the canal was likely to remain closed for at least a week. However the stoppage was extended several times due to various delays.

On Nov 14th BW announced that the replacement gate has been manufactured and delivered to the local depot. Work to install the gate was to start the following week with the canal expected to re-open on 28th November. However, on 28th November, BW announced that work had been delayed "due to unforseen circumstances" and that the canal should be re-opened by 10th December. Following a further delay the canal was finally re-opened on 12 December.

The stoppage affected boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring. It caused potential difficulties for boaters attempting to reach places before the winter stoppage programme began on 3rd November. Some concern has been expressed about the length of time taken to complete this repair on the Ashton Canal compared with the speedy repairs that are carried out on more popular canals further south.

Prince Charles visits Sowerby Bridge Canal Wharf

December 4th 2008

Prince Charles at Sowerby Bridge Photo: BW
Robin Evans of BW shows Prince Charles around Sowerby Bridge Canal Wharf. Photo: BW

In late November, Prince Charles visited Sowerby Bridge Wharf to see for himself the extensive conservation and regeneration of the area.

The project to regenerate the wharf area was established by his charity, The Prince's Regeneration Trust, in 1996, at a time when the wharf was in a state of decline and the warehouses facing dereliction.

The project conserved and restored a unique collection of historic canal buildings, benefiting and supporting existing businesses at the wharf, attracting new businesses to the area and bringing visitors to this historically important site. The wharf with its warehouses is situated at the junction of the Calder and Hebble Navigation with the Rochdale Canal.

The focus of the project was the regeneration of the Grade II listed Salt Warehouse and the Grade II* listed No. 4 Warehouse, which in turn attracted further development.

The Prince toured the warehouses and met those running businesses there. He saw the wet dock and named a newly-built canal boat. He spoke to local Sea Scouts who had initially saved the Salt Warehouse from collapse by renovating part of the structure and erecting a temporary roof, before the start of the regeneration project.

Stephen Baines of Calderdale Council said: "The Council has worked for many years to achieve the regeneration of the canal basin area and is very grateful to The Prince for the commitment and support of his Regeneration Trust. This major transformation has been the result of close working with the local community."

Maddy Jago of English Heritage, which provided design and conservation advice, said: "The conservation of the canal warehouses has extended regeneration to the wharf and it is wonderful to see them once again being used and enjoyed by the local community."

Ashton Canal Remains closed after gate damage

Lock 17 Ashton Canal
Lock 17, Ashton Canal

October 16th 2008 updated 24th Oct, 14th Nov, 28th Nov, 9th Dec

The Ashton Canal remains closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

British Waterways staff have investigated the extent of the damage and found that a new gate is required.

BW's workshop has been informed, timber has been ordered and a new gate will be manufactured as soon as possible

The canal is likely to remain closed for at least a week.

This will affect boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Update: Oct 24th 2008
The canal remains closed to through navigation. Measurements have been taken and the workshop has started constructing the replacement gate, but it could be up to 4 weeks before navigation is restored.

Update: Nov 14th 2008
The canal remains closed to through navigation. The replacement gate has been manufactured and delivered to the local depot.

Works to install the gate will commence early next week and the canal is planned to re-open to navigation on Friday 28th November.

Update: Nov 28th 2008
The canal remains closed to through navigation. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the installation of the replacement gate has been delayed and the canal will now re-open to navigation on Wednesday 10th December.

Update: Dec 9th 2008
The canal remains closed to through navigation. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the installation of the replacement gate has been delayed and the canal will now re-open to navigation on Friday 12th December.

Very Limited Opening at Salterhebble Guillotine Lock

November 14th 2008

Salterhebble Guillotine Lock

There will be very restricted passage through Salterhebble Guillotine Lock on the Calder and Hebble Navigation over the winter period. This follows a technical breakdown in May, since which the guillotine has had to be manually operated by BW staff.

The Guillotine Lock will be operated by BW staff during the following period only:
 • 12.00 noon - 1.00 pm daily

Passage will be possible outside these hours but this must be booked 72 hours in advance by telephoning the Yorkshire office on 0113 281 6860.

For enquiries about the stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

Extension to Liverpool for Bridgewater licence holders

November 11th 2008

Princes Dock on the new Liverpool Link
The new Liverpool Link at Pier Head.

British Waterways has agreed to extend its arrangement with the Manchester Ship Canal Company to allow pleasure craft displaying a valid Bridgewater Canal licence to travel through to Liverpool.

This extension is for a limited period of time, from 1st January 2009 until 31st December 2013. This means that when the Liverpool Canal Link opens in Spring 2009, Bridgewater licence holders will be able to travel along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal beyond Burscough and to use the Liverpool Canal Link through to the Albert Dock.

Currently, Bridgewater licence holders can travel for a period of seven days free of charge along the Leigh Branch and from Wigan to Burscough and from Wigan to the bottom of Blackburn Locks. In a reciprocal agreement, BW licence holders can use the Bridgewater Canal free of charge for up to seven days.

This arrangement is hoped to increase the number of boats expected to travel along the under-used western end of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and onto the new Canal Link through to the southern docks. Some improvements have been made to the section of canal between Litherland and Liverpool but long-term improvement can only come from increased use, so that boats become a regular sight.

The present destination of Eldonian Village, while being an attractive location, has not been a sufficient draw to bring large numbers of boats along the western end of the canal. The exciting new route through the central docks and across the vibrant Pier Head area to the new destination of Salthouse and Albert Docks has already caught the imaginations of boat owners and is expected to attract a lot more boats to journey along the canal to Liverpool.

The new agreement between British Waterways and the Manchester Ship Canal Company was reached following a request by a boater on the Bridgewater Canal and will allow Bridgewater licence holders to cruise to Liverpool without additional charge.

The section of the new Canal Link through the Pier Head in Liverpool was filled with water recently and the public has been allowed back onto this part of the Pier Head. This has met with wide approval, with Liverpudlians keen to see the Link fully opened and boats coming through.

The latest photos of the Canal Link can be seen here.

New Mile Posts for Leeds and Liverpool

New Milepost
Mike Clarke and Trevor Roberts with the first of the new mile posts.

New Milepost
The castings used for creating the faces of the mile posts.

October 25th 2008

An interesting project is under way to restore missing mile posts along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

This involves a collaboration between the Bradford Motor Education Project, British Waterways, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association.

Bradford Motor Education Project's marine division, "Dreamweavers", which supports the education, training and personal development of young people, has co-ordinated the project, with senior trainees having been involved in pattern making, casting the mile plates, surveying the sites and installation of the posts.

At first, the mile posts will be installed between Shipley and Bingley. It is hoped eventually to complete the length between Apperley Bridge and Skipton.

Some of the funding for the project came from a donation to the IWA for the benefit of canals in the West Yorkshire area.

Considerable support in the manufacturing of the mile posts came from Carnaud Metal Box of Shipley and the first post was installed outside their door!

The new mileposts are replicas of the original design. The form for the post itself was found in a BW workshop. The form for the lettering section was developed bythe "Dreamweavers" team.

Top right: Mike Clarke (Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society) and Trevor Roberts (Bradford Motor Education Project) with one of the new mile posts.(Photo: BW)

Bottom right: Some of the castings used in the making of the mile posts, including "positives" and "negatives". (Photo: Peter Scott)

For photos of most of the surviving mileposts, half and quarter mile markers, see this web site.

Hunting the Ghosts of Standedge!

October 25th 2008

David Vee

One of Britain's top ghosthunters, David Vee, has once again been called in to investigate paranormal activity at Standedge.

Following last year's fantastic success, Standedge is opening this mysterious and chilling experience to the public once again by offering the chance to join David and members of his paranormal team on board a boat to venture into the tunnel in a bone tingling quest for ghosts, ghouls and all things creepy!

Those that can hold their nerve will explore inside the haunted tunnel before venturing up to the visitor centre where a vigil to connect with the paranormal world will be held.

David Vee said: "The event at Standedge is a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about ghosts to get an understanding of what we do on an investigation. Standedge is a great prospect for us as it has real history and an air of mystery. I picked up on some activity around the site when I last visited, particularly in the tunnel, so I can't wait to lead people on this journey and see what we can discover."

The haunting experience with special guest David Vee starts at 9.00 pm, finishing at 2.00 am and costs a spooky £40 per head, but you must be over 16 years old and bring suitable warm clothing and footwear. Places can be reserved by contacting the Standedge team on 01484 844298. Cheques should be made payable to British Waterways and sent to James Dean, Visitor Services Manager, Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre, Waters Road, Marsden, Huddersfield, HD7 6NQ.

For younger spook-seekers or those with less bulging wallets, Standedge will host a series of Hallowe'en themed boat trips in to the tunnel on Wednesday 29th. Thursday 30th and 31st October.

Stoppage on Bridgewater near Leigh

Lingards Footbridge
Lingards Footbridge, Leigh Branch

October 24th 2008

There will be a major stoppage on the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal this winter.

New safety gates will be installed on the navigation near Lingards Footbridge, close to the A580 East Lancs Road crossing, between Boothstown and Leigh.

The area is very prone to mining subsidence and the safety gates are needed to protect the canal from the effects of this subsidence, due to fissures that cross the line of the canal. The gates will close in the event of any sudden water loss.

Work will begin on Monday 10th November 2008 and continue until Friday 30th January 2009 or until such time as the work is complete.

There are winding holes for boats to turn west of the A580 (Morleys) Bridge and at Boothstown marina. There will also be towpath restrictions and diversions as needed.

Peel Holdings say that there is unlikely to be any temporary opening of the route over the Christmas period.

Pollington Lock Re-opens

Pollington Lock
Pollington Lock during refurbishment work. Photo: BW

October 24th 2008

Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation is to re-open on Monday (27th October) after being closed for three weeks.

British Waterways needed to drain Pollington Lock to enable its operations team to carry out repair works at the site, which involved the replacement of two of the seven sluices and general repairs to the lock gates and cills.

However, Pollington Lock is no ordinary lock - it is one of the largest locks on the waterway system! The original lock was built around 1825 when the Knottingley to Goole section of the waterway was opened to avoid the tidal River Ouse. The lock was extended a number of times, most recently in 1970, to accommodate larger commercial vessels.

The lock has four sets of gates, which are all operational, which can be used in combination to create a chamber of varying length, according to the size of vessel passing through.

Click here to see a Google aerial view of Pollington Lock.

Around 850 loaded barges pass along the Aire and Calder each year, carrying mainly oil or sand. Each barge holds about 13 lorry loads, keeping around 11,000 loaded lorries off local roads each year.

The route through Pollington is also used by thousands of pleasure boaters, as it forms a vital link from Leeds and Wakefield to Doncaster and to the tidal River Trent at Keadby.

Click here to see more photographs from British Waterways showing some of the work that has taken place at Pollington Lock.

Self-Steer at Standedge Tunnel

October 19th 2008

Passenger module at Standedge Tunnel, Huddersfield Narrow Canal

British Waterways will change the way that boats pass through Standedge Tunnel from 2009!

Boaters have been told than a new system of "Chaperoned Operation" will be used for diesel powered boats.

The present system, which started when the tunnel re-opened in 2001, is a complex operation, requiring an electric tug and passenger module pulling customers' boats through in a convoy on just two days a week. A safety vehicle in the adjacent disused railway tunnel shadows the convoy. The operation is very labour intensive and costly to run and the limited passage times is a disincentive for boaters to use the canal.

Tests carried out during 2007 showed that it was feasible for diesel engines to be operated routinely within the canal tunnel, with gas emmision levels well within HSE limits for safe working. During 2007 and 2008 BW carried out a series of trials involving first hire boats of Shire Cruisers and later privately owned boats with the approval of the owners. By working with a variety of boats of different types BW has been able to assess potential operational problems.

As a result of the tests and the positive feedback that the new system was more flexible and effective, a system of "Chaperoned Operation" will be introduced from 16th March 2009, with competent BW staff accompanying boat owners as they take their boat through the tunnel. The BW staff wll be there to advise and may steer if required.

BW has indicated that the operation of this systen is likely to include:
 • All boats to undergo a safety assessment before transit.
 • Critical points of the boats to be fendered.
 • Boat owner or steerer and BW chaperone to be equipped with authorized Personal Protection Equipment (e.g. hard hats, etc), additional lighting and two radios. Other crew members to remain inside the boat cabin.
 • A returnable deposit of £50 along with a small at-cost charge will be taken either in cash or by credit card, to ensure that guidelines are abided by and equipment returned in good order. This deposit will be asked for at the point of booking to ensure boats turn up.
 • Competent BW staff to accompany boat owners through tunnel on their craft. BW staff to act as 'chaperones' and advise boaters on navigating the tunnel. BW staff may be prepared to steer through difficult points, under the consent of the boat owner.

It should be possible for certain boats, such as petrol powered vessels, to be towed through the tunnel as at present.

Another new development will benefit local people and visitors who are not boaters. Up until now, anyone can book to join one of the convoys by buying a "hiker's ticket" but the days and times have had to fit in with the boat convoys. In 2009 BW will trial special passenger trips right through the tunnel. These are to be on the first Saturday of the month for a six month trial period. This initiative will give the non-boating community the opportunity to see the entire tunnel.

In preparation for the self-steer operation for boaters, BW will be working on the tunnel during the winter stoppage period, improving some of the tunnel's "pinch points" where boats can sustain damage. Improvements in communications within the tunnel will also be made.

It is understood that tunnel passages will be available on more than the current two days a week. Further information will be published as it becomes available.

Gate Damage closes Ashton Canal

Lock 17 Ashton Canal
Lock 17, Ashton Canal

October 16th 2008

The Ashton Canal has been closed following damage to the gate of Lock 17.

British Waterways staff have investigated the extent of the damage and found that a new gate is required.

BW's workshop has been informed, timber has been ordered and a new gate will be manufactured as soon as possible

The canal is likely to remain closed for at least a week.

This will affect boaters doing the Cheshire Ring and the South Pennine Ring.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

An update notice will be issued by BW on Friday 24th October.

Report Unlicensed Boats!

October 15th 2008

boat craning

Photo: BW

British Waterways is urging boaters to report boats that are not licensed.

One of the problems that has been found in the past is that some boats not displaying a licence or displaying an out-of-date licence are in fact licensed, which wastes time for enforcement officers.

To help get around this, a new online report page has been introduced where you can check whether a boat is licensed and report it if it is not.

If you see a boat that you think may not be licensed, go to BW's online checker and enter the boat's registration number. The database will then tell you whether the boat is licensed. If it is not, you will be invited to enter details about the boat's location so that a licence inspector can investigate.

If the boat is not showing a registration number, you can enter the location and details such as the boat's colour, etc. so that it can be investigated.

It has been infuriating for boaters who pay their licences promptly to see other trying to get something for nothing. If a boat in unlicensed it may also lack insurance and a boat safety certificate. BW has been having a purge on boats that are unlicensed or which overstay at moorings, with the enforcement team having been strengthened.

On the north west's waterways15 boats have been seized and impounded in four months and £180,000 collected in unpaid licence and mooring fees.

BW's Jane Thomson says: "We are acting in the interests of our canals and customers by reducing the number of unlicensed and derelict craft blighting our waterways. Every penny is being ploughed back into maintaining and improving the network for everyone."

To find out more about buying a licence, licence conditions, etc. see

Link to BW's online checker.

Sheffield Stoppage

Tinsley Locks

Tinsley Locks

October 7th 2008

A stoppage on the Tinsley Locks on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation is to continue.

The pump system that back-pumps water up the Tinsley Locks near Sheffield has been causing problems. This has led to low water levels, so no passage is possible through the Tinsley lock flight until the pump is fully repaired.

British Waterways has announced that problems are continuing and so the flight will remain closed for now. A further update will be issued on October 13th.

Update: Oct 13th 2008
The flight will re-open at 8.00 am on Wednesday 15th October.

Weir Damage Closes Calder and Hebble

- navigation now re-opened

Mirfield Cut
Mirfield Cut above Shepley Bridge Lock - levels have been low here.

October 7th 2008

High volumes of water coming down the River Calder over the weekend have washed away part of the weir at Ledgard near Mirfield.

This has resulted in low levels on the river below Battyeford Lock and along Mirfield Cut to Shepley Bridge Lock. It is reported that boats moored in the mile-long Mirfield Cut are now sitting on the bottom.

British Waterways engineers have been on site to assess the extend of the damage. The Calder and Hebble Navigation is now closed between Battyeford Lock and Shepley Bridge Lock. This stoppage will be initially for one week but could be extended.

Update: Oct 11th 2008
Work on the weir is progressing and water levels are rising. The navigation has re-opened but boaters should proceed with caution until works are complete and levels back to normal.

Update: Oct 13th 2008
Work is now complete and normal water levels have resumed.

Two Women Rescued in Canal Plunge Drama

October 6th 2008

Two women were rescued from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal last week following a bizarre freak accident.

The two women, Jackie Lewis, who was in a motorised scooter, and her carer, Catrina Paton were visiting the Kirklees area from Devon. During a visit to Tunnel End, near Marsden, they were exploring the canal towpath when they were caught in a sudden heavy shower. Reports suggest that while they were hurrying back to their car, a gust of wind blew Jackie's hood over her eyes, causing her to veer off the towpath into the canal, knocking Catrina into the water as well.

At the point where this happened, the towpath is around 6 feet above the water so neither lady was able to climb out. Their shouts were heard and the alarm was raised. A visitor ran round and threw a life ring for the women to hold onto and three British Waterways staff rushed from nearby Tunnel End Cottage bringing a pole. They were able to pull the two women to a point where they could be pulled out of the water and taken back to the BW office until the ambulance arrived.

Fortunately the place where they fell in is a winding hole (boat turning point) so the water was deep. Had they fallen from a height into shallow water they could have sustained injury.

The fire brigade was alerted and a full water rescue procedure initiated, with fire engines sent from Marsden and Slaithwaite and special units from Brighouse, Cleckheaton and Bingley. Fortunately these were not needed thanks to the prompt action of the British Waterways staff.

It was reported that BW send their Health and Safety specialists to visit the scene on Thursday and that they are looking into the possibility of putting railings along the edge of the towpath at this location.

Forty Years at Standedge!

Fred Carter at Standedge Tunnel
Above: Fred Carter at the controls of a tunnel tug.
Below: Fred Carter (centre) with Huddersfield Canal Society members Neville Kenyon, Ronnie Rose, Paul Leeman, Andrea Fisher and Keith Sykes

Fred Carter with Huddersfield Canal Society members

September 27th 2008

On 23rd September, Fred Carter celebrated 40 years of working on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Standedge!

To mark Fred's 40 years on the canal, the Huddersfield Canal Society gave him a handwritten citation, complete with a specially-produced hand-cut wax seal, granting him honorary life membership of the Society.

It was presented to him by Ronnie Rose, a long-standing volunteer with the Society, who has come to know Fred very well over the years.

Fred is often to be found steering the passenger boat or acting as tunnel guide. His genial manner combines with his extensive knowledge of the tunnel to guarantee an interesting journey!

"I have seen the canal come full circle!" he says. He remembers seeing the locks filled in and "cascaded" to make them safe and he remembers seeing them restored years later.

When the canal re-opened in 2001, Fred became a tunnel pilot and a guide aboard the passenger boat in Standedge Tunnel. He loves working on the tunnel convoys. "You get some really nice boat crews travelling through the tunnel," he says, "and the time really flies". He takes turns at the different jobs in the tunnel and still has time to do regular reservoir inspections.

Recently, he has played a part in the trials that have been carried out to test the practicalities of boats passing through Standedge Tunnel under their own power. He has made over a thousand passages through the tunnel and knows every bit of it. "I'm so used to the dark, they won't let me drive boats in the daylight now!" he laughs.


First boats back on Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal!

Sept 19th 2008

Margaret Fletcher Tunnel, Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal

The first boats entered the newly restored section of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal in Salford today.

Boats gathered on the River Irwell to enter the new Margaret Fletcher Tunnel leading to the new lock.

The lock has a fall of around 4m (16 ft), depending on the river level. It replaces the original Locks 1 and 2, which formed a staircase. These had to be replaced by a tunnel under the Relief Road and the new lock to the west of the railway.

After the first boat, the Prince William, rose in the lock, speeches were made and a plaque was unveiled.

Photo, right: The first boat entering the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel.

See more photos of the first boats onto the restored section of canal and the unveiling of the plaque.

See new photos of the canal in water between the River Irwell and Oldfield Road.

Boats in new lock, Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal
Boats in the new deep lock.

Boats above new lock, Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal
Boats above the new lock.

Stranded Boat Refloated

September 11th 2008

Recovery of Pipistrelle

Recovery of Pipistrelle

Photos: Neil Sanford

A narrowboat, which has been stranded on the towpath near Wakefield since January, was re-floated yesterday afternoon.

NB Pipistrelle was lifted onto the towpath of the Calder and Hebble, out side the Navigation Inn, Broad Cut, by a sudden flood in January 2008. Another narrowboat nearby was capsized during the flooding. See photos of the boats after the flooding.

Because of the difficulty of getting a crane to the location, NB Pipistrelle has been sitting high and dry across the towpath ever since.

Yesterday a salvage team arrived to retrieve the stranded boat. Arrangements were made with British Waterways for temporary stoppages to navigation during the recovery process.

Eye-witness accounts of the recovery suggest that it was unorthodox and undignified! The bow of the boat was under water for a time and a quantity of water appears to have been taken on board. It is believed that the propellor and prop shaft were removed beforehand to avoid damage but there appears to have been some damage to the rudder and skeg during the removal.

It is not known whether the contractors were acting for the boat owners or an insurance company and it is not known what will happen to the boat now. It has now been towed away from Broad Cut.

The photos (right and below) are shown courtesy of Neil Sanford and are taken from a video recording.

Recovery of Pipistrelle

Recovery of Pipistrelle

Recovery of Pipistrelle

Photos: Neil Sanford
Recovery of Pipistrelle

The video of the recovery can be seen here. Please note that this lasts around 20 minutes and is only suitable for broadband users.

September 11th 2008

Mann Island Lock
Lock gate being lowered into position. Photo: BW

Work on the construction of the new Liverpool Canal Link is reaching its final stages.

In August the new lock between the Canal Link and Canning Dock was completed at Mann Island with the installation of lock gates.

The gates were 5 metres (16 feet) high and weighed 4 tonnes. They were built a few miles away by Twinbridge of Burscough before being taken to British Waterways' workshop at Stanley Ferry to have the paddle sluices and operating gear fitted.

In addition to the normal pair of gates at each end, there is a third pair of gates at the Canning Dock end, facing the other way, to act as a flood lock on the occasions when the water level in Canning Dock is higher than that in the Canal Link.

The section of new canal channel across the Pier Head area is now almost complete. Another lock is currently under construction at the northern end of this channel where it connects with Prince's Dock.

The construction of the remainder of the Link should be complete by December. After that, there will be a period of testing and commissioning before the Link opens to boats in Spring 2009.

Click here for more photos of the new canal channel and lock at Mann Island.

Photos of the construction along the whole line of the Canal Link can be seen here.

[It is hoped to have a new set of photos on this site showing progress along the whole route in the next few weeks.]

From Bank to Bank on the Ashton Canal

September 8th 2008

Lock 27w
Volunteers working on a previous event. Photo: BW

There is to be an influx of bank staff on the Ashton Canal - literally!

On Wednesday 10th September, 180 volunteers from the Royal Bank of Scotland are going to carry out work on the banks of the Ashton Canal around the Fairfield Locks in Droylsden.

The work, which should significantly improve the appeal of this waterway corridor to visitors, will include towpath repairs, graffiti removal, vegetation management, building maintenance, landscaping, dry stone walling and wash wall repairs.

According to Steve Higham of British Waterways, the volunteers are to be split into task groups, with each group under professional supervision from BW operational staff.

He said: "An attractive environment is proven to attract more pedestrians and cyclists from the local community along with visitors from further afield."

The area to be worked on will stretch over a mile between Bridges 14 and 20, with the towpath the whole way through Droylsden being closed for the day to allow the works to proceed safely.

This event is part of BW's ongoing policy of increasing the input that volunteers can have in helping to maintain the waterway environment.

More problems on Huddersfield Narrow Canal

September 7th 2008

Lock 27w

Problems with locks and vandals have caused closures of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

The Diggle flight has been closed for several days while gate repairs are made at Lock 27w. The tail gate appears to have suffered heavy impact from a boat, resulting in three of the thick cross beams being cracked [see photo, right]. There was felt to be a danger of the gate collapsing outwards with the weight of water behind it when filled.

It is believed that the impact occurred some time ago but the gate has become weaker to the point that it was considered dangerous to use.

BW staff began to make repairs last Wednesday but found that the damage was more serious than at first thought, requiring more substantial repairs. Metal bands have been bolted to the cross beams and to the inside face of the gate to act as strengthening braces. There had also been some damage to the lock's head gate which may not have been related.

Three boats were heading westbound through Standedge Tunnel on Wednesday morning and these boats are still waiting at Diggle. A number of boats are waiting at Wool Road and Uppermill for a tunnel passage, having been booked to go through on Wednesday or Friday.

The work appears to have been completed and, hopefully, once the gates have been inspected on Monday morning, the Diggle flight will re-open. It is understand that BW may convey the delayed boats through the tunnel on Monday.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 281 6860.

The pound above Lock 10w was completely drained last week. This has been blamed by some on youngsters and by others on poachers attempting to capture the fish. The canal was closed for around 36 hours until enough water had been sent down to refill the pound.

Update: Sept 8th 2008
The navigation has now re-opened.

Swimming the Manchester Ship Canal!

September 6th 2008

James Whittaker
James Whittaker (left) preparing for the swim (Photo: Peel Holdings)

This weekend sees the first attempt to swim the length of the Manchester Ship Canal!

James Whittaker is swimming the 36 mile length of the canal on 5th and 6th September in an attempt to raise £250,000 for The Children's Hospital Appeal. James is a Development Director for canal owners Peel Holdings. Peel is donating £1 million to the charity.

Although James will swim on his own, he will be accompanied by a safety boat and friends in kayaks for moral support! The 36 mile swim is the equivalent of swimming 2.400 lengths of a public swimming pool.

James has been training by swimming lakes such as Coniston Water, Bala Lake, Rivington Lake and two-way swims on Ullswater and Windermere.

The New Children's Hospital Appeal was launched in 2006 to raise £20 million to fund projects in the New Children's Hospital in Manchester.

You can sponsor James and help him to reach his target by making a donation through the Just Giving website. Taxpayers can make a Gift Aid declaration which will boost their donations.

As well as raising money for the New Children's Hospital Appeal, the swim coincides with the launch of Peel Holdings' Ocean Gateway regeneration scheme, which will involve a £50 billion regeneration of the Manchester Ship Canal corridor and Liverpool Estuary areas.

Read more about James and the preparations for the swim on the Ocean Gateway Challenge website.

Read more about the New Children's Hospital Appeal on the Appeal's website.

EA Probing Rochdale Canal Pollution

August 22nd 2008

Experts from the Environment Agency have been investigating the pollution incident that closed the Rochdale Canal for several weeks.

They have now discovered that a large quantity of pesticide was poured down a road drain on the Oldham Broadway Business Park in Chadderton. The road drains flow into the canal at The Causeway. The EA's Steve Walters said "We believe somebody may have come along and dumped the herbicide down the drain undetected."

An estimated 15,000 fish were killed and a quantity of rare plant life destroyed. The fish included roach, perch and pike. The canal was closed to boat traffic between Manchester and Chadderton in order not to spread the effects of the pollution.

The investigation is still ongoing and the EA has urged anyone with any information about this to contact them on 0800 80 70 60.

Rochdale Canal Now Re-opened Following Pollution Incident

August 18th 2008

The Rochdale Canal is to re-open after being closed between Chadderton and Ancoats following a serious water pollution incident at the end of July.

The canal between Locks 64 and 83 will re-open at 8.30 am on 19th August.

This section of canal was closed in order to restrict the effects of the pollution while investigations by the Environment Agency and British Waterways took place. It was necessary to wait for the results and analysis of testing to ensure that secondary pollution would not occur from the re-opening of the canal.

Although the test results indicated that secondary pollution is unlikely to occur, because of the sensitive nature of the canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, British Waterways decided to conduct a trial re-introduction of boat traffic so that the effects could be monitored.

The "Rochdale Nine" locks through Manchester and the rest of the canal through Rochdale, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge have not been affected.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 01942 405700.

Short Stoppage at Bingley Locks

Bingley 5-Rise Locks

August 18th 2008

A short emergency stoppage is required at Bingley 5-Rise Locks to replace the heel post of a lock gate.

The locks will close at 5.00 pm on Monday 18th August and re-open at 12.00 noon on Wednesday 20th August.

For enquiries about this stoppage, contact British Waterways on 0113 2816860.