Canal News 2003

Major Breach near Parbold, west of Wigan

September 8th 2003

Breach near Parbold
1. The scene of the breach.

Breach near Parbold
2. The torrent has reduced to a trickle.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal has now re-opened after a huge breach had closed it near Parbold to the west of Wigan.

The breach occurred on 20th July 2003 at Newburgh, near Parbold. Millions of gallons of water drained away from the 27 mile long pound between Appley Bridge and Liverpool, washing away part of the Wigan to Southport railway near Hoscar Moss. Boaters miles away noticed the level dropping and the area containing the breach was sealed off with temporary bungs.

The Rufford Arm, leads down to the River Douglas a couple of miles west of the breach, was closed for some time. A two mile stretch of the main canal line remained closed until early September while emergency repairs were made.

The closure cut off Liverpool and the Ribble Link from the rest of the canal system. British Waterways asked boaters proposing to travel through the area to alter their plans. They made arrangements for those trapped on the wrong side of the closure and needing to return to their home moorings to have their vessels craned around the closure.

Craning operations took place on the first four Fridays in August. Boats trapped at the western end of the canal were craned out at Moss Bridge (No. 35) and back in at White Bear Marina, Adlington. Boats returning from the Lancaster Canal via the Ribble Link were craned out at Harry Mayor's boat yard, Tarleton and back in at White Bear Marina.

Boats needing to return to the western end of the canal or the Lancaster Canal were craned out at White Bear Marina and taken to Moss Bridge or Tarleton, respectively.

The canal is now fully open again. Boaters intending to use the Ribble Link should contact Galgate office on 01524 752888 as usual to arrange passage.

The webmaster of this site returned from a cruise along the Lancaster Canal and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in July. He and his companions were lucky enough to pass through the affected area a few days before the breach occurred!

Photos 1 - 5: Ken Fairhurst. Click here to see more photos.
Photo 6: Narrowboat World.

3. The escaped water has formed a lake.

4. Stop planks form part of a dam under a swing bridge.

5. Creating a dam next to a bridge.

6. Work on plugging the breach nears completion.

Repairs to damaged Rochdale gates

September 8th 2003

Photo: Su and Mike Poole

The Rochdale Canal has now re-opened between Todmorden and Manchester following closures during Summer 2003.

Broken gates at Lock 65 in Failsworth and Locks 25 and 30 near Walsden, which had resulted in closures during July, were replaced. However, inspections which took place showed some other gates of a similar type between Todmorden and Littleborough to be vulnerable. Four further sets of gates were made to replace these.

In addition, 15 other gates between Failsworth and Sowerby Bridge needed to receive steel strengthening plates. While this work was being carried out, the canal remained closed between Todmorden and the junction with the Ashton Canal in Manchester.

A few boats were craned past the closure. Some staff were transferred to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to enable more boats to use Standedge Tunnel.

The canal remained open between Sowerby Bridge and Lock 19, Todmorden, except on on 6th, 7th and 8th August, when Lock 16 (Lobb Mill) was closed for gate strengthening.

The canal re-opened on 8th September 2003.

The photograph above right shows the badly damaged and inoperable gate at Lock 30, which has since been replaced.