Stately and imposing, our boat lifts are among our most impressive examples of historic waterway architecture.
They were, and indeed still are needed when our canals undergo severe changes in level. One boat lift is cheaper to build and maintain than several locks and the transit time through a lift is far faster than the passage through locks. Most importantly – especially in today’s world - lifts also conserve water.
The first ever boat lift in Britain was an experimental one by Robert Weldon of Litchfield who made a model for demonstration purposes at Oakengates, Shropshire in 1794. He was asked to proceed with the construction of the real thing, a cassion lock to lift boats up a 46’ rise. Unfortunately the lift jammed and failed.
Nearly 100 years later, the Anderton Boat Lift was constructed. 1875 saw the opening of this majestic edifice which links the River Weaver with the Trent & Mersey Canal some 50’ above. The lift worked until 1983 when serious deterioration of the structure was discovered. Some £7m was raised to fund the restoration, which was successfully completed in 2002.
One of the most famous boat lifts in Britain was the Foxton Inclined Plane. This pioneering structure was opened in July 1900, following in the footsteps of the Ketley Canal boat plane which opened in 1788. The Foxton Inclined Plane was commissioned to replace 10 aging locks which took impatient working boaters a total of 45 minutes to navigate. Ascending the new lift took only 12 minutes from start to finish.
Last date edited: 7 July 2015