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News article created on 25 September 2015

Leeds & Liverpool Canal re-opens after emergency repairs

The Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal has re-opened following the completion of emergency repairs. The £550,000 project was required when a 200-year old culvert that passes underneath the waterway collapsed in July.

Rufford Branch with houses and bridge in distance Rufford Branch, courtesy of Tom Richardson

Following the incident, the section between locks 4 and 5 had to be dammed and drained to allow the repairs to take place.

Our engineers and contractors have been working long days and at weekends to get the canal back open as soon as possible. This has meant removing 600 tonnes of peat in order to replace the collapsed 200-year old wooden culvert with two new modern 750mm plastic pipes, before making good the canal itself.

A remote stretch

Graham Ramsden, Canal & River Trust project manager said: “Our staff and contractors have been working hard to make sure we re-opened the canal as quickly as we possibly could to ensure boaters could use the canal and enjoy their onward journeys.

“Whilst it’s a particularly beautiful stretch of canal, it’s also quite a remote stretch. 200 years ago, the canal navies would have dug the canal using picks and shovels. Today we’ve been able to use modern machinery to make the repairs, although doing so has involved negotiating the Ormskirk railway line at night to transport the material off site.”

The Rufford Branch is just over seven miles long, with eight locks, and connects the main line of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (at Lathom Junction) to the River Douglas (at Tarleton Junction).