£13m project launched to stop North West canals "falling back into dereliction"

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Work has begun on a £13m project to protect and preserve the North West’s historic waterways.

From now until March, expert teams from The Canal and Rivers Trust will replace worn-out lock gates, repair historic bridges, and carry out a host of tasks to keep the region’s 250-year-old network in working order.

The programme

Work includes:

Lock 2 stoppage on the Ashton CanalLock 2 stoppage on the Ashton Canal
Lock 2 stoppage on the Ashton Canal

- Relining of lock gates and repairs to lock chambers along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Saddleworth, on the Rufford Branch at Burscough and on the Rochdale Canal at Newton Heath to help save water.

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- Worn-out lock gates being replaced at several locks including on the Ashton and Rochdale canals in central Manchester, along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Stalybridge and Mossley, on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Barrowford and Wigan Lock Flight, along the Llangollen Canal at Nantwich and on the Shropshire Union Canal at Audlem in Cheshire.

- Canal wall repairs on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Stalybridge and Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne and on the Diggle Lock Flight on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Saddleworth.

- Culvert repairs along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and Shropshire Union Canal.

Braving the elements

Stephen Ballard, the Trusts’ regional operations manager, said: “Our skilled teams will be braving the elements this winter carrying out the important ongoing repair and conservation work that is vital to keep the canals across the North West open, safe, and accessible for boaters and local communities.

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“With research telling us that time spent by the water can help us all to feel happier and more relaxed, it’s vital that we keep these special places open and safe for us all to enjoy both now and for future generations. The work our charity is doing this winter will help ensure that the region’s waterways continue to bring real benefits to people’s lives.

“With the support of volunteers and the financial assistance from partners and donors, we’ll be replacing lock gates and painstakingly repairing historic brickwork; continuing our work to ensure that our wonderful waterways are protected and never again fall back into the dark days of canal dereliction and decline that was the story of the early and mid-20th century.”

The new gates

The lock gates on the North West waterways weigh several tonnes and typically last around 25 years.

Each new gate is hand-crafted and is made to measure from seasoned oak so that it fits perfectly in each historic lock chamber.

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