This January sees the start of a major £2.5 million project to repair part of the historic Peak Forest Canal in Marple, Cheshire.
We're undertaking major repairs to three locks on the Marple Lock Flight and installing a bespoke parapet railing on the Grade I listed Marple Aqueduct. The work is being funded by us and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It will take around four months to complete.
This stretch of canal was recently awarded a coveted Heritage Green Flag Award and the works will ensure it continues to be a great place for boaters and people in the local community to visit.
We discovered in September that the 213-year-old chamber wall at Lock 15 had moved, which resulted in the closure of the lock flight to boats. The emergency work will involve an archaeological survey before the wall is carefully dismantled as part of the painstaking repairs. The ground will then be stabilised with a buried concrete retaining wall to prevent any further movement before the original stonework is put back in place.
The 18th Century Marple Aqueduct carries the Peak Forest Canal 100 feet above the Goyt Valley, and is the tallest masonry-arch aqueduct in the country. The aqueduct, which is Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, was originally built with no parapet on the ‘offside’ of the canal away from the towpath. So we're taking the opportunity to install a new parapet to help keep people safe at the site.
A bespoke solution, which follows consultation with Historic England, the boating and local communities, has been designed to form a sympathetic and lasting addition to the structure. The design was inspired by a ‘cotton weave’: a subtle reference to the nearby site of Mellor Cotton Mill which the canal would have served.
While the lock flight is closed we're installing new lock gates at Locks 1 and 13, as well as carrying out minor works to improve the condition of the canal and towpath for boaters and local community.
David Baldacchino, our waterway manager said: "The Peak Forest Canal is one of Britain’s most scenic waterways. It’s hugely popular, used by thousands of boaters, walkers, cyclists and runners each year and a great place to get away from it all. We’re grateful to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery who’s support is going towards the cost of carrying out these important repairs. It’s a big investment for our charity, but the health and wellbeing benefits for the local community is priceless.
"It’s very rare that we have to carry out emergency repairs like those at Lock 15, but when you’re looking after a 200-year-old working structure these things can happen. We anticipate that this extensive programme of works will be completed in time for the start of the main boating season from April 2018."
Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "I am delighted that as a result of funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery we’re able to fund the major repairs being undertaken by the Trust to the three locks on the Marple Lock Flight. This restorative work will improve the conditions for not only boaters but also the community."