In April 2000 work started to on the re-instatement of Wade Lock and High Street bridge in Uppermill, Saddleworth.
When the canal was originally built, the road twisted across a bridge here. When the canal was closed, the top of the bridge's arch was removed so that the road way could be straightened and flattened.
This presented a problem when it came to restoring the canal as the road was then wider than the original bridge. The condition of the remains of the bridge was unknown so it was not known whether a completely new bridge needed to be built.
Luckily the existing structure was in a good enough condition to be restored and used, saving a lot of construction time and meaning that the job could be carried out without completely closing the road as had been feared.
During construction, one side of High Street was fenced off at a time and the traffic was controlled by signals.
This view was in February 2000, before work started. The canal can be seen behind the white street sign. The lock was situated immediately behind the sign. The future line of the canal below the road is clearly shown by the exploratory trench dug to investigate the remains of the original bridge.
Investigation of the remains of the original bridge showed that, although the top of the arch had been removed, the walls of the bridge were structurally sound. It was therefore decided to restore the original bridge. This will need to be extended southwards by means of a pre-cast box-culvert tunnel and a concrete channel to join the existing channel. The original bridge had no towpath, as it changes sides at this point, so walkers will need to cross the main road, as will boat crews operating the lock.
April 10th 2000: The chamber of the lock has been dug out. The stonework of the tail gate recesses can be seen. The top of the bridge arch has gone but the curved side walls of the bridge can be made out below the pipe. Because the road alignment has been changed, this hole has uncovered most of the width of the original bridge.The box-culvert extension will be needed to carry the other side of the roadway.
May 4th 2000: The bridge arch is being re-built. Stones are being laid onto a wooden arch form.
By August, the top of the arch was complete and had been covered over. The road surface had been re-laid and the traffic diverted onto the north-west side of the road. Piles were sunk on the other side of the road for the excavation for the new section of bridge. The footpath is being diverted around the west side of the lock.
October 26th 2000: The restored arch is being continued southwards along this channel by means of a box-culvert tunnel. A concrete base has been laid along the the bottom of the excavation. The concrete sections have been placed onto this. Part of the arch portal should be visible where the concrete tunnel joins onto it. Looking through the tunnel and arch , the chamber of Lock 21W can be seen. The concrete wall on the right of the picture was built after the canal was closed and the road widened.
December 16th 2000: A new gas main has being routed across the concrete tunnel. The stone wall to the right of the tunnel is being built up to the height of the roadway. Wash walls are being built outwards from the tunnel mouth. The tunnel portal will be faced with stone. Above the bridge tunnel, the wall alongside Oldham Road is being re-constructed.
December 16th 2000: Looking north to the new bridge tunnel from further back. The wall supporting Oldham Road is being faced with stone.
March 10th 2001: The new stone faced portal. A viewing area is being created above it, with railings between the pillars. The stank (dam) has been removed and the bridge is now in water.
March 10th 2001: The bridge and tunnel have been completed. The road has been surfaced and is fully open on both sides. Traffic calming measures have been added to slow down vehicles entering the village. A "pinch point" has been introduced to narrow the road slightly, creating a footway across the bridge.
Next page: High Street Bridge page 2.