Our engineers have been buoyed by the support of local boaters as they attempt to assess the full damage caused to the historic Calder & Hebble Navigation by the Boxing Day floods.
Members of the Calder Navigation Society (CNS) and Inland Waterways Association (IWA) have been offering their boat-handling skills to enable staff from the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England & Wales, to assess the damage from the water.
The floods were some of the worst ever seen on parts of the waterway network in the North and the scale of the damage means that our own workboats either can’t get to some areas or are being used on other flood-related repairs.
Using a boat lent by hire firm Shire Cruisers at Sowerby Bridge, members of the CNS and IWA have taken staff from the Trust out on to the water to get a better look at lock gates and mechanisms and also to check out any obstructions in the water. The Safe Anchor Trust based in Mirfield has also made a similar offer of help.
Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust said; “We were delighted to receive the offer from the Calder Navigation Society, IWA and Shire Cruisers and it’s been a genuine help in enabling us to get a clearer picture of the damage caused by the floods.
“Their offer has helped us to see things that you wouldn’t be able to from the towpath and to get into hard to reach places on the opposite side of the canal. It’s a fantastic, and very warmly received, example of people pitching in to get things back up and running as quickly as possible.”
Mike Fretwell, Secretary of the Calder Navigation Society said; “The damage to the navigation is obvious and we wanted to help out in any way we could to get things reopened as quickly as possible. While we may not be experts in bridge construction, we are practised boaters and used to operating locks and so we were happy to offer our help in surveying the navigation, where possible by boat.”
Nigel Stevens from Shire Cruisers said; “Everybody is pitching in and it was nice to be able to help. We had one of our hire boats available and wanted to do our bit to help get things back up and running.”
Elaine Scott, IWA West Riding Branch Chairman said; “It is brilliant that the Canal & River Trust can bring different people together to try and get the navigation open as quickly as possible”.