The Official Opening was carried out by Environment Minister, the Rt Hon Michael Meacher, MP. Part of the recently restored canal lies in Mr Meacher's Oldham West and Royton constituency. The ceremony took place at Sandbrook Park, off Edinburgh Way, Rochdale, close to the newly-constructed tunnel below the junction of Edinburgh Way and the A627M motorway. Plaques were unveiled that will be placed in Oldham and Rochdale.
Mr Meacher, with British Waterways Ecologist, Jason Leach placed specimens of the rare floating water plantain (luronium natans) into the recently restored Rochdale Canal. The plantains had been rescued from the canal prior to restoration and kept in tanks in a British Waterways warehouse nearby. They have been planted in reservations alongside the navigable channel.
Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Minister for the Environment, with British Waterways Ecologist, Jason Leach place the rare floating water plantain (luronium natans) into the recently restored Rochdale Canal.
Photo: British Waterways
There was a slight hitch to the day's proceedings when Castleton farmer Chris Jones plunged into the water ahead of the boat carrying the VIPs to the ceremony. Mr Jones feels that British Waterways have not provided adequate access to his farm when his original access road, through the M62 subway, was converted into a canal tunnel to enable to canal to re-open. Mr Jones blocked the newly constructed nearby lock with a JCB last year.
Undaunted, the official party left their boat at the other end of the tunnel, climbed up the embankment and crossed the busy ten lane road junction to reach the site of the ceremony. Mr Meacher later joked about the day including some mountaineering.