Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Marple to re-open while work continues

The Canal and River Trust has announced its intention of re-opening Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal even before the work on Lock 15 is complete.

The lock flight has been closed for 8 months and has caused difficulties for hire companies and local boaters, so CRT is keen to re-open the locks to navigation as quickly as possible.

All masonry work should be completed this week and next week the lock gates will be installed and scaffolding and temporary dams removed so that boats can pass through from 5.00 pm on Friday 25th May.

However there will remain work to be completed, such as re-laying the gate quadrants and landscaping work, so boaters are asked to follow instructions from the site team while work is taking place.

A recent view of the work at Lock 15.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Marple Locks Re-opening Delayed Further

A set-back to the work to re-build Lock 15 at Marple has led to the re-opening date being put back once again. The lock flight is now expected to re-open on May 25th.

The lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has been closed since September due to serious subsidence at Lock 15, resulting in a narrowing of the lock chamber. As one side of the lock chamber was taken down to be reconstructed a series of unexpected problems arose.

The original completion date in March had to be put back when it was founds that stonework removed from the chamber wall was splitting and crumbling so that new stones had to be quarried.

It has now been discovered that the brick foundations of the chamber wall were in poor condition so that it would not be possible to construct the masonry wall on top. The brickwork had to be taken down to the invert to get a firm foundation.

The expected opening date of May 4th is no longer achievable and a revised schedule should see the navigation reopening on 25th May.

Thanks to Peter Stockdale for the following photographs.
Lock 15 as work starts on the re-building of the nearside chamber wall. Photo: Peter Stockdale
Newly-quarried stone arrives for the new chamber wall. Photo: Peter Stockdale
Photo: Peter Stockdale

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Do-it yourself approach to Liverpool Canal Link

From Monday 16th April boaters visiting Liverpool will be able to "do it themselves". Improvements have been made to swing bridges and locks to allow self-operation by boaters.
• Bridge 9 at Wango Lane (Handcocks Bridge) is now boater-operated using a new push-button console. However, boaters should note that, because it is a busy road, it cannot be used during rush hours. The bridge will not operate between 7.30 and 9.30 am or between 2.00 and 6.00 pm.
• Bridge 6 at St Oswald's Lane (Netherton Bridge) is now boater-operated and has new landing stages to make this easier.
• Stanley Locks Branch is now boater operated, following improvements to paddles and the installation of a pontoon landing below the bottom lock.
• Princes Dock now has a pontoon landing making easier access to the lock for boater operation.

Liverpool Canal Link times of operation:
The Liverpool Canal Link between Salthouse Dock and the top of the Stanley Dock Branch will be available for operation:
• From the top of Stanley Dock Branch, heading into Liverpool, 1.00 to 4.00 pm (except Tuesdays).
• From Salthouse Dock, heading out of Liverpool, 8.00 to 9.30 am (except Tuesdays).

Booking is still required for the link and for a mooring in Salthouse Dock.
Booking your passages in and out of the Liverpool Canal Link and your mooring in Salthouse Dock can be made online by logging into your CRT account. (You will be charged an administration fee if you do not turn up and have not cancelled your booking.)

Information about the Liverpool Link, along with downloadable skipper's guides and other useful guidance, can be found here.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Marple Locks to re-open in May?

Boaters will be disappointed to learn that Marple Locks are unlikely to re-open before May.

A new target has been announced, with CRT hoping to re-open the lock flight in time for May Day Bank Holiday on 4th May.

The lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has been closed since September due to serious subsidence at Lock 15, resulting in a narrowing of the lock chamber. As work to repair the lock proceeded more problems have emerged.

CRT had hoped to re-open the locks by late March but they discovered while dismantling stonework from the lock chamber wall, some of the stones have started splitting and crumbling and will not be able to be reused as expected. CRT have managed to source new replacement stone from a local quarry, but the need to have new stones cut to size has added a further delay to reopening the lock.

Work at Lock 15, Marple. Photo: Ian McCarthy

CRT have taken advantage of the enforced closure to carry out other work on the flight, with new lock gates being fitted at Locks 1 and 13, a total of 10 locks having been grouted, large wash wall repairs between Locks 8 and 9, Lock quadrant walls rebuilt and Lock slope towpaths upgraded. CRT volunteers have also been removing vegetation, installing new paddle gearing to the locks and fixing parts of the towpath where it is in bad condition.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Date given for Marple re-opening

The Canal and River Trust has announced that it aims to re-open Marple Locks by 29th March.

The lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has been closed since September due to serious subsidence at Lock 15, resulting in a narrowing of the lock chamber. There was movement of the lock wall, with a risk of collapse.

The work is complex, with the need to dig boreholes to assess the nature of the work needed. The job has been further complicated by the confined space in which to carry out the work and the need to follow procedures for working on a Heritage Grade II Listed structure.

The confined space in which work at Lock 15 is being carried out. Photo: Ian McCarthy

The lock gates have been removed and the chamber filled with stone to stabilise the wall while the ground behind is excavated. A retaining wall will be constructed and the lock wall rebuilt. The retaining wall will eventually be out of sight within the structure.

The anticipated re-opening date of 29th March is later than originally hoped, but in time for the Easter weekend. (See update below.)

With fabric to protect the stones, the lock chamber has been filled with stone to stabilise the wall.Photo: Ian McCarthy.

While the Marple locks are closed, CRT is taking the opportunity to carry out a number of other repairs to the locks and bank, and the controversial safety work at Marple Aqueduct.

Update 1st March:
CRT will not now be able to meet their anticipated opening date of 29th March, but now hope to re-open the lock flight in time for May Day Bank Holiday on 4th May.

Thanks to Ian McCarthy for the photographs and additional information.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Barton Aqueduct Maintenance Dates Confirmed

The Bridgewater Canal Company has now confirmed the dates when Barton Aqueduct will be closed for its annual maintenance.

The structure will be closed for navigation along the Bridgewater Canal from Monday 5th March for two weeks. It will re-open on Monday 19th March.

The Bridgewater Canal Company say that work is expected to be completed within the specified time. However, due to the nature of the work they cannot guarantee completion on the published date.

This stoppage affects the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Santa Splash on L&L in Liverpool

On Saturday 2nd December, the Canal and River Trust helped local communities get into the festive spirit and discover England’s first coast-to-coast canoe trail with their biggest 'Santa Splash'.

50 Santas, elves and helpers participated in the 'Santa Splash' on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which forms part of the Desmond Family Canoe Trail.

The festive two-mile paddle set off from Liverpool's Eldonian Village and finished at Bootle.

Funded by a £1.3 million grant from the Desmond Foundation, the 162-mile Desmond Family Canoe Trail starts in Liverpool, follows the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Aire and Calder Navigation to Goole.

Danny Matley from the Canal and River Trust said: "We had a brilliant day. It was great to see so many people turn out and help us create our biggest ever Santa Splash. It's a unique way to experience the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and have fun getting into the festive spirit."

Information about the Desmond Family Canoe Trail at:

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Long term closure of Marple Locks

As was reported in September, a problem involving subsidence at Lock 15 at Marple is going to result in the whole of the Marple lock flight being shut for an extended period.

Towards the end of September the Canal and River Trust said that following a detailed survey it was clear that the lock had become too narrow to be operated safely. Dealing with the subsidence at the lock was going to be "a significant and complex project". CRT needs to work with their contracting partners to make sure that they can get the repair done quickly but at a reasonable cost too.

They were unable to give a timescale for the completion of the work other than to say that the lock will be closed here for some time.

At the end of October, CRT issued an update to say that there has been lots of work going on behind the scenes looking for the best way to repair the lock chamber wall. Further monitoring of the wall has shown that it has continued to move.

In early November CRT will be carrying out further ground investigations, digging large boreholes around the lock to give detailed information about the ground around the lock so that the extent of the works needed can be established. The lock is Grade II listed, in a conservation area and in a confined location making access difficult. CRT needs to make sure that the designs to repair the wall can work in the limited space, are sympathetic to the area and meet the heritage criteria dictated by the lock's Listed status.

CRT are hoping that work will be able to start before Christmas and will be aiming for the repairs to be completed by mid March.

CRT are reviewing what other works that they can do in the flight over the winter to make the most of the extended closure.

It would therefore appear that the 'window' when the locks were due to be open for navigation on 27th and 28th Jan 2018 will not now be possible.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Ashton Canal Stoppage

An emergency stoppage is in place on the Ashton Canal after both paddles failed at Lock 16.

The Canal and River Trust are taking every step to fix the problem as soon as possible and will issue an update tomorrow morning.

The canal will be closed between Lock 1 and Lock 18.

This stoppage comes less than 2 weeks after a 4-day stoppage on the Ashton Canal after the cill at Lock 9 failed.

The Ashton Canal is part of the Cheshire Ring route, which is currently also closed at Marple Locks after the discovery of subsidence at Lock 15.

Update 10 am 21st September:
CRT have completed the repairs at Lock 16. The pounds have re-filled overnight and the canal has re-opened to through navigation.

Lock 16 of the Ashton Canal at Edge Lane

Monday, 11 September 2017

Emergency Stoppage at Marple Locks

The Canal and River Trust has issued a stoppage notice affecting Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal.

The whole lock flight from 1 to 16 is currently closed until further notice due to subsidence at lock 15.

Canal and River Trust engineers will be carrying out inspections later today. A decision whether the locks can be re-opened will be taken after the inspection.

This stoppage affects boaters navigating the Cheshire Ring.

Update 5 pm 11th September:
CRT has issued the following statement -
"Over the weekend subsidence has become evident at Lock 15, Marple and we have had to close the canal here while this is investigated. Following inspections on site today we are now concerned that there has been some movement to the towpath side lock wall as well.

"Our engineering team will be undertaking a thorough examination of the lock over the next few days so that we can be clear about the true extent of the problem and what repairs are now needed.

"Given the uncertainty about the full extent of the problem we cannot estimate a reopening date for the lock at the moment, when we know more we will be able to issue a further update. We’re sorry if this problem has caused you delays but want to assure you that we are giving this highest priority."

Update 14th September:
The locks are expected to re-open on September 22nd after full investigations have been completed.
There has been some subsidence at Lock 15 and the lock chamber has narrowed. When it re-opens, there will be a width restriction of a maximum of 6ft 10 in until permanent repairs can be carried out.

Update 22nd September:
CRT have said that they were unable to re-open the lock today as hoped. Further works are continuing. Another update will be issued early next week.

Update 26th September:
Last week's detailed survey shows that the lock has become too narrow to be operated safely. The repair will be a significant and complex project. CRT say it is unlikely that they will be able to suggest a date for reopening for a couple of weeks and that it looks as if the lock will be closed for some time.

Lock 15 at Marple

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

'Boat Jam' at Tunnel End

There was a 'boat jam' at Tunnel End yesterday after a record 12 boats made the passage through Standedge Tunnel from Diggle.

The boats were taking part in the 'Pennine Explorer Cruise' organised by the Huddersfield Canal Society.

The fleet will be stopping at Slaithwaite tonight and Milnsbridge the following night.
Read more on the Huddersfield Canal Society website.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Restricted times at Wigan

Boaters passing through Wigan on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be affected by new restrictions on lock opening times.

From Wednesday 7th June, in order to conserve water, the following locks will be restricted:
- Lock 65 (top of Wigan fligh)
- Lock 85 (bottom of Wigan flight)
- Lock 1 (Poolstock, Leigh Branch)

These locks will be padlocked and only open at these times:
- 8.00 - 9.00 am daily
- 2.00 - 3.00 pm daily

Boaters travelling down the Wigan flight should enter Lock 65 between 8.00 - 9.00 am and pass through Lock 85 (and Poolstock, if continuing towards Leigh) between 2.00 - 3.00 pm.

Boaters travelling up the Wigan flight should enter Poolstock locks (if coming from Leigh) and Lock 85 between 8.00 - 9.00 am and pass through Lock 65 between 2.00 - 3.00 pm.

Boaters travelling from the Leigh Branch towards Liverpool (or vice versa) should pass through Poolstock locks  between 8.00 - 9.00 am or 2.00 - 3.00 pm. Note that Lock 88 (Pagefield Lock) to Lock 89 (Ell Meadow Lock) are closed overnight from 8.00 pm to 8.00 am.

The Canal and River Trust says that these restrictions will be in place until further notice and will be lifted as soon as water levels have stabilised. 

Update Tuesday 13th June:Poolstock Lock has reverted to night-time closure only, being padlocked between 8.00 pm and 8.00 am (the same as Pagefield Lock and Ell Meadow Lock).
Locks 65 and 85 will continue to open only between 8.00 - 9.00 am and between 2.00 - 3.00 pm. Overnight mooring is permitted at Rose Bridge between Locks 77 & 78. 

Lock 85 at Wigan

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Leigh Branch Re-opened

The Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal has re-opened to navigation after being closed near Boothstown since mid-February.

The stoppage has been due to reconstruction work on Vicar's Hall Bridge, roughly half way between Astley Green and Bridgewater Marina at Boothstown. The concrete bridge abutments are now in place. A brief stoppage to crane the bridge deck in place is expected to take place around the end of June.

It is unusual for a stoppage of this kind to have taken place during the main boating 'season' and this has caused frustration for many boaters heading to or from Liverpool or the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Vicar's Hall Bridge. Photo: Colin and Carole's Creations

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Piccadilly Drained

The Ashton and Rochdale Canals have been drained in the Piccadilly area of Manchester as part of a police investigation. The water was drained from the Ashton Canal below Lock 1 and the adjoining Rochdale Canal between Locks 83 and 84.

The police are investigating the disappearance of a young man nine years ago and a search of this area of canal is part of the investigation. There was no sign of any police activity today so it may be presumed that they have concluded their search.

The canal is due to be re-opened tomorrow evening (21st April).

More photos on our Facebook page (no need to be a member of Facebook to view them).