2004 was a special year for the Peak Forest Canal!
In July there was a celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Marple flight of locks in 1804.
The Marple locks linked the Upper and Lower Peak Forest Canals, which had been open since 1800 but had been linked by a tramway. The celebration of this anniversary took place along the lock flight and in Marple Memorial Park. Events included a re-enactment of Samuel Oldknow's inaugural trip down the locks, using the Ashton Packet Boat Company's horsedrawn boat "Maria", 150 years old in 2004 and one of the only surviving working boats from the Peak Forest Canal.
Over the Easter weekend (April 9th -12th) there was a gathering of boats above Marple Top Lock to celebrate 30 years of the restoration of the Marple Locks and 30 years of the Cheshire Ring. The wooden Maria was horse-drawn from its Ashton base to celebrate being 150 year old! In readiness for this anniversary, Maria has been restored to its original condition by her owners, the Ashton Packet Boat Company, with the removal of the roof that was added when the boat was converted for carrying passengers. Maria was built at Jinks' yard, next to Marple Top Lock in 1854 and is thought to have been named after Mr Jinks' daughter.
On Good Friday, 9th April 2004, the unveiling took place of a locally-made cast iron signpost to commemorate the work of Ted Keaveney, a local canal enthusiast, who was instrumental in getting the 16-lock flight reopened in 1974. About 150 people from the boating and local communities attended.
The IWA's North West Region Chairman Margaret Fletcher said: "Ted Keaveney and the other stalwarts of the Peak Forest Canal Society led the campaign for the restoration of the canal route from Marple to Manchester. To achieve this they did much of the restoration work themselves. The restored route is now an attraction that is enjoyed by walkers, boaters and many other diverse groups."
Ted Keaveney's son, Bob, said: "I am moved that my late father's efforts in promoting waterway preservation, restoration and development, both locally and nationally, are being recognised in this way. Its location at Marple Junction is especially appropriate as it was one of my parents' favourite places on the waterway system."