Diary of a breach

In September 2012 the Trent & Mersey Canal experienced a breach at Dutton Hollow near Preston Brook. We've been working hard to repair the hole in the canal. Keep checking back here to stay up to date with the latest repair news as it happens.

Dutton 5 April 2013
Dutton 5 April 2013


10 May 2013

The canal is open again and so we'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped us to fix it in time for the main boating season. As a treat take a look at the time-lapse video below to see the repairs take place from start to finish. This will be the last installment in the diary but if you want your fix of massive engineering project updates then keep an eye on the site - we've got a very special project coming up....

Trent & Mersey Canal from Lumen on Vimeo.


2 May 2013

We're re-opening the canal! 
Find out more

 25 April 2013

We've got a small amount of tickets available for the reopening of the canal on Thursday 2 May. If you want to be part of this momentous occasion visit http://trentandmerseybreachreopening.eventbrite.co.uk and book your place.

24 April 2013

Take a look at the latest video of the repair work at the breach

Trent & Mersey Canal from Lumen on Vimeo.

23 April 2013

Project manager Paul gives us the latest news from the breach:

Well the bells are ringing out in celebration now we’ve announced that we’ll open the canal before the May Day bank holiday. This will restore the famous Cheshire Ring back to a fully circular route.

The construction team have done extremely well with the project and this week will complete the relining work. All of the wash walls are now in place and the team is now working on finalising the fencing and completing the towpath construction. We are also looking at filling up the canal in the next week to test the section fully for leaks and check everything is ok. You can see the progress clearly in the pictures below.

The site is really starting to take shape now and over the last couple of weeks we have also had volunteers, on site restoring the mile post back to its former glory. This has now been replanted and is pride of place as close to its original location as we could possibly put it. We did have to alter the location slightly so that we could accommodate the new section of towpath. Our heritage team will work with English Heritage to reset the Ordnance Grid reference location for the post.

Unfortunately as the project will be drawing to a close I will only be carrying out a few more of my web updates for the project. I know the reception has been really positive and as the project manager I am really proud to hear this.

Dutton 23 April

Dutton 23 April

Dutton 23 April


19 April 2013

Find out what's been happening at the breach site this week: 

12 April 2013

Take a look at how the breach repairs have been taking shape over the past month:

Trent & Mersey Canal from Lumen on Vimeo.


5 April 2013

Project manager Paul fills us in on what's been happening over the past few weeks at the breach site:

Well what can I say? Day by day the works are looking more and more complete. As you can see from the photos, everything is really getting straight and starting to look like a canal again.

Although we have had the freak cold weather the construction team have still managed to maintain their frantic pace to complete the works.

As shown the embankment has now been fully reconstructed and the team are working on the last remaining length of the new concrete canal wall. While all this has been going on part of the team have been working on relining the canal length from the north, and have already completed almost 50% of the lining works.

I would like to think that there have been extraordinary measures put in place with these works. However, I put the great progress down to a good design, which is being delivered by a hard working contractor. Although to be fair we have also been really lucky with the weather, which has aided progress immensely.

Currently with all the excellent progress the project team are now looking at how we plan to re-water this section ready for opening the canal. The good news is that we are now planning to reopen very early in May. We'll make an announcement very soon with a firm date.

Enjoy the pictures!

Dutton 5 April 2013 


Dutton 5 April 2013

Dutton 5 April 2013

Dutton 5 April 2013


19 March 2013

Project manager Paul gives us the latest on the breach repairs at Dutton: 

Well we are into March and all I can say is that the construction is going at an absolutely Dutton, 19 March 2013fantastic pace. Carrying on from my last update works on the embankment are now almost complete. The majority of the hill has now been reconstructed with the large stones, which will act as drainage for structure. The area has now been top soiled and is starting to look like the finished article. We are also completing all of the minor drainage runs through the embankment to take in all of the natural springs of water, which run under the canal bed. This will stop the embankment becoming saturated again and guard against it failing.

While that has been going on the steady weather has meant that work to reline the canal from the north end of the site has remained unhindered. This has meant we have completed over 40m of the relining and the canal section is now finished in this area. As part of the work and to take advantage of the great views across the Weaver Valley we have taken the decision to make the breach site into a short term mooring site to allow people to see the where the canal failed.

With all this great progress we can announce the good news that we should be reopening the canal before the Whitsun Bank Holiday. We are starting to look at the logistics of an official open day and we hope to release details of this in the next couple of weeks.


18 March 2013

Our customer services visited the breach site at Dutton recently to see the repair work for themselves. Here our customer service co-ordinator Sarina Young tells us about their day:

Following days of freezing temperatures, rain and even some snow we were all a little Dutton 18 Marchworried that our visit to the site of the breach on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Dutton might turn out to be a total washout, excuse the pun. But, we should have had more faith because as we pulled onto the temporary, and very bumpy, gravel track leading down to the site office the sun was resolutely beaming down on us. 

Soon after arriving we were given a safety talk during which we made a careful note of how to get to the nearest A&E department, particularly because Sian’s our colleague's baby is due in only two weeks! We donned our hi-vis waistcoats and hard hats and made our way down to the viewing platform to stand next to the time lapse camera which is carefully documenting the progress of these works for us all to see.  

Of course, we’d all watched the video taken not long after the breach and before the water was dammed where you could clearly see the easy-net cable hanging out of where the towpath used to be and the water gushing out of where the canal should have been into what seemed to be an endless abyss. 

However, what none of us had fully appreciated from that video was the sheer size of this Dutton 17 Marchbreach. From up on the viewing platform, and even more so when we stood where the canal should have been, you were able to appreciate just how big a job this was. With the price tag for this repair now estimated at £2.1 million it was suddenly obvious to us how this could be the case. 

From this vantage point we could also see why the decision had been made to install mooring rings along the, now cleared, stretch where the canal breeched…the view is awesome.  There are also plans to install an interpretation board here for visitors to identify all the landmarks they can see in the distance; having seen the view ourselves we think this will be something of a hotspot in years to come.

Later we moved down into the channel of the canal, passing the exposed off side where the water table was visible in the very sandy soil, over the large stones, which will help this water run under the canal more easily, and along to where the latest section of the wall and bed has been completed. 

The repair work uses some pretty cool technology with fibre reinforced concrete (Paul Dutton 16 Marchseemed to have the measure of us and used an analogy to explain the use of fibre in cement as a little like the coconut in a coconut cake!) and bentonite liner which expands when wet and has to be weighted down as it is laid to prevent it doing this – but the brilliant thing about this is that if it were ever punctured it would expand until it ‘self-sealed’ preventing any leaks, magic!  We also has a brief chemistry lesson thrown in for free…did you know that as concrete dries it gives off heat?  Well it does, and it’s called an exothermic reaction. 

We all had some time to have our questions answered with one final, carefully considered, question from Helen beautifully summing up the extent of her technical expertise: “I was wondering, what do you call those orange spinny digger things?”.  Paul knowledgeably informed us that the machine Helen referred to was a ‘360° excavator’… it took us much more time to decide whether it was indeed orange or actually yellow.

It’s clear that we have some exceptional people working extremely hard to reopen the canal and, as we handed back our safety equipment and piled into our cars to head back to work, we all felt just a tinge of jealousy that we couldn’t call this wonderful place our office too.

Help us repair the hole and make a donation to the breach appeal today.  

12 March 2013

Take a look at our time-lapse video of the repair work taking place at Dutton: 

Dutton Hollow Breach Repairs from Lumen on Vimeo.


25 February 2013

Paul tells us what's been going on at the breach site this weekend:Paul Brown at the breach open day

Well I’m back to the grindstone today after an absolutely fabulous open weekend on this project. The public was given a great opportunity to come and visit the site and see the how the works are progressing.

It was very interesting to see the mixture of gasps and awes as people got the first glimpse of the ‘big hole’. It was also really encouraging to spend all weekend speaking with genuine canal enthusiasts and people who are really interested in what we are doing on site. 

I thought the weekend was a great success and we even raised over £600 in donations on the day, which will go directly to the project. I would like to thank the organising team, the volunteers who helped to staff the days and all the people for coming along who seemed to love my ‘magic’ bentonite liner sample.

Project wise the work is going really well. At the bottom of the site work has begun to dealDutton Breach 25 February with all of the material from the embankment. We have reached an agreement with the landowner and we’re landscaping the material into his field and improving his drainage. While this has been going on we have nearly refilled two thirds of the hole in the embankment with the large drainage material.

We are also working on the canal construction, including the new wash wall and bed construction working from the north to the south. Another piece of good news is that we have managed to recover the cast iron mile post that was lost in the embankment when the canal breached.

Over the next week the entire hole should be filled with the drainage stone that we are importing and we will begin on finishing off and facing the embankment. As time goes by the progress is still being maintained at a really good pace and we are still very much on target for our end of May opening.

Help us repair the hole and make a donation to the breach appeal today.


12 February 2013 

Paul gives us the latest on the breach repairs at Dutton:Dutton Breach 12 February 2013

As many of you will have seen in the recent media coverage, the reconstruction work at Dutton is taking place at a great pace and we’re really pleased with the progress. 

Even with the recent poor weather, the construction team has managed to tough it out and crack on with the reconstruction work. Over the last few weeks we’ve installed the new drainage run at the bottom of the embankment and started on the reconstruction of the slope.

While we’re happy with the progress made, working at the site hasn’t all been all sugar and spice over the past few weeks as heavy snow and rain have tried to hamper our efforts. At times the weather has turned the working area into a more of a domain for slugs and snails than for construction work. We’ve dealt with the problem by bringing in pumping equipment to help drain the water and maintain the working area.

Help us repair the hole and make a donation to the breach appeal today.


Help us repair the breach

Anyone wishing to support this emergency appeal to repair the breach can visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/breach. Every penny donated will go directly to repairing the canal.

Last Updated: 10 May 2013