Pennine Waterways
Pennine Waterways
Rochdale Canal
Opening of the Rochdale Canal
The complete length of the Rochdale Canal from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester re-opened to navigation on Monday 1st July 2002.

John Craven cuts the ribbon at Lock 92.

There was a ceremony at Castlefield, Manchester, where John Craven, Vice President of The Waterways Trust, cut the ribbon at Lock 92. A fire eater, BW's mascot Vinnie the Vole and music added to the festivities.

The ceremony took place at Lock 92, which is at the western end of the canal, although the first 9 locks had remained open as part of the Cheshire Ring. The restored section begins at Lock 83.

The first boat up the canal after the opening ceremony.

Crowds gather at Ben Healey bridge for the opening ceremony.
Another celebration took place on the same day at Ben Healey Bridge, behind Littleborough Station.

A ceremony to open Ben Healey Bridge and the Rochdale end of the restored section of canal took place at 1.00 pm led by Fred Dibnah, with the Mayors of Calderdale, Rochdale and Oldham and other guests, including MPs.

The events at Littleborough began at 11.00 am with a street market with craft stalls and exhibitions, decorated canal boats, canoeing, schools and musical accompaniment provided by Rochdale Music Service. There was a special outside broadcast from BBC GMR radio.

A flotilla of boats was led by the historic wrought iron narrowboat Elland, pulled by Sue Day's boathorse, Queenie. The boat is on a journey around the South Pennine Ring. [More...]

Fred Dibnah rides on the horse-drawn boat Elland, which leads the flotilla of boats to Ben Healey Bridge.

The horseboat Elland carrying Fred, and Otter, carrying the dignitaries, approach the ribbon.

Fred Dibnah cuts the ribbon at Ben Healey Bridge.

Fred Dibnah with Councillor Allen Brett, Chairman of the Rochdale Canal Trust, on board Elland, the first boat through the bridge.

The flotilla of boats set off down the newly-opened Rochdale Canal towards Smithy Bridge.
Engineers let water into the new channel under the M62 on the morning of May 1st, thus making the entire canal navigable. Some sections of towpath will not be ready straight away.

Today's opening marks the beginning of a commissioning period for the canal.

It is expected that an official opening for the whole canal will take place at a later date.

Click here to go to Page 2 - First boats along the restored canal.

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