Tuesday 13 September 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (4-2)

Tuesday September 13th

Worsley Bridge to Castle Quay Manchester.
Day 23

We heard something of a clunk in the night on the boat roof. When I checked for the scrotes boarding party, I found a small branch had broken off a nearby tree and had landed on the roof.

We were up with that lark this morning to find that the gale force wind had dropped overnight. The weather had taken a change for the better and we were under way by 8:30 in bright sunshine. We had an uneventful cruise with only three other boats passing us going the other way.

We crossed over the Manchester Ship Canal at Barton Swing Aqueduct but there was no moving traffic to be seen in either direction as far as the eye could see.

I paid due homage as I passed the Old Trafford ground of my beloved Manchester United. I doffed my metaphorical hat as the Sir Matt Busby Way came into view. We eventually moored up in Castle Quay at 11:30 just as the wind started to pick up in strength once again.

Our 2009 Nicholsons Guide lists a boat yard (Edgerton Narrowboats) seems that it has closed down!

We both had a walk into Manchester Town centre to purchase a couple of matching sets of waterproofs as our old ones have seen better days. A matching pair of North Face waterproof over-suits mean that I am now a pauper once more.

No bats were detected tonight in the basin. I did however note that there are bird boxes and bat boxes along the nearby section of the Rochdale canal.

Daily Total
Distance: 9 Miles.
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1877.3

New Section of Canal
The Rochdale Canal is a navigable "broad" canal. The "Rochdale" in its name refers to the town of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, through which the canal passes.The canal runs for 32 miles (51 km) across the Pennines from the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield Basin in Manchester to join the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.

As originally built, the canal had 92 locks. Whilst the traditional lock numbering has been retained on all restored locks, and on all the relocated locks, the canal now has only 91 locks. The former locks 3 and 4 have been replaced with a single deep lock (Tuel Lane Lock), which is numbered as 3/4.

Because of its width, The Rochdale Canal was more successful than the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and became the main highway of commerce between Lancashire & Yorkshire. Cotton, wool, coal, limestone, timber, salt and general merchandise were transported. In 1890 the canal company had 2,000 barges and traffic reached 700,000 tons a year. The equivalent of 50 barges a day, in spite of competition from the Manchester and Leeds Railway. Cutting tolls, the canal managed to retain trade and remain profitable, but by the start of the 20th century it was in financial trouble. Its reservoirs were sold to the Oldham and Rochdale Joint Water Board in 1923. Apart from a short profitable section in Manchester linking the Bridgewater and Ashton Canals, most of the length was closed in 1952 when an act of parliament was obtained to ban public navigation and by the mid 1960s the remainder was almost unusable.

When an Act of Parliament was sought in 1965, to authorise the abandonment of the canal, the Inland Waterways Association petitioned against it, and when it was finally passed, it contained a clause that ensured the owners would maintain it until the adjacent Ashton Canal was abandoned. In early 1971, a boat rally was organised on the canal, and later that year, there was public debate over the high cost of a project which had in-filled part of the canal to create a shallow water park, when restoring the section for navigation would have been cheaper. Discussion of the relative merits of restoring the canal or the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in 1973 led the formation of societies to promote both schemes in 1974. The Rochdale Canal Society wanted to see the canal fully re-opened, as part of a proposed Pennine Park. The Ashton Canal, which joins the canal above lock 84, reopened in 1974, and the nine locks on the Rochdale Canal between the junction and the Bridgewater Canal were restored at that time.

The canal benefited from the activities of the Manpower Services Commission in 1975, when £40,000 was allocated under the Job Creation Scheme to fund work on the Rochdale town section of the canal. T he following year, another 150 jobs were created when a further £208,000 grant was made. Despite the progress, there were plans to sever the route with a low-level crossing by the proposed M66 motorway in 1979, and to build a supermarket on it at Sowerby Bridge in 1980, both of which were met with opposition. 

One benefit of the Job Creation Scheme was that the perception of the restoration changed in official circles. The local council was responsible for the young people employed on the scheme, which ran for twelve years, and found itself having to negotiate with the canal company. At its height, there were 450 people working on the canal, and since no-one could work on the scheme for more than a year, several thousand people learnt practical restoration skills, and many retained an interest in canals afterwards. The section from Todmorden to Hebden Bridge was completed in 1983.

The Rochdale Canal Society worked hard both to protect the line of the canal and to begin the process of refurbishing it. A new organisational structure was created in 1984, with the formation of the Rochdale Canal Trust Ltd, who leased the canal from the owning company. A proposed extension to the M66 motorway created a new threat to the canal in 1985, but Greater Manchester Council began to look at ways to remove blockages in the following year, particularly the M62 embankment which blocked the route at Failsworth.

Calderdale Council managed a £1 million scheme to remove three culverts and restore two locks later that year, with some funding coming from the European Economic Commission. The MSC-funded restoration was approaching Sowerby Bridge, where planners were proposing a tunnel and deep lock to negotiate a difficult road junction at Tuel Lane, so that a connection could be made with the Calder and Hebble Navigation.The entire eastern section from Sowerby Bridge to the summit at Longlees was open by 1990, although it remained isolated from the canal network.

In 1991, an Ecotec Report looked at the costs and benefits of completing the restoration. It estimated that another £15.9 million was needed, but for a total expenditure of £17.3 million, some £30 million of benefits would be gained by the region, including 1,028 full-time jobs. Some of this money would come from Derelict Land Grants. The re-fashioned link with the Calder and Hebble Canal (which had never closed) was funded by £2.5 million from this source. The initial plan included a lock that was only 57.5 feet (17.5 m) long, but space was eventually found for a standard 72-foot (22 m) lock. The first boat to pass between the restored Rochdale Canal and the Calder and Hebble Navigation did so on 11 April 1996, although the official opening did not take place until 3 May. Tuel Lane Lock is nearly 20 feet (6.1 m) deep, making it one of the candidates for the deepest lock on the British canal system.

In 1997, the Rochdale Canal Trust was restructured, in response to announcements that there might be large grants available as part of the Millennium celebrations. The canal was still at this point owned by a private company, and the Millennium Commission would not make grants to a scheme which was for private profit, rather than public benefit. The restructuring would allow the Trust to take over responsibility for the canal from the Rochdale Canal Company. However, the plan was rejected by the Commission, and in order to access the grant of £11.3 million, the Waterways Trust took over ownership of the canal.

Additional funding to make up a £23.8 million investment package came from English Partnerships and the councils of Oldham and Rochdale. As restoration proceeded, boats could travel further and further west, and the restoration of the sections through Failsworth and Ancoats were a significant part of the re-development of the north Manchester districts. The restored sections joined up with the section in Manchester below the Ashton Canal junction, which had never been closed, and in July 2002 the canals was open for navigation along its entire length.

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