We're investing £15m this winter in the North West, carrying out essential repairs, upgrades and maintenance work.
As part of the four-month programme, which is due to finish in mid-March, our expert engineering teams are replacing worn-out lock gates, dredging waterways and carrying out a host of tasks to keep the 200-year old network in good working order.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, we are unable to offer our usual on-site open days for visitors to get a special behind-the-scenes view of canal repairs and conservation work in progress. However instead this year, we have produced a virtual open day focusing on the lock gate repair works at Brownsfield Lock 83 on the Rochdale Canal in Ancoats, close to Manchester city centre.
A series of short films give a fascinating insight into the regeneration of the canal and how old lock gates are repaired, including footage of the gates being lifted out by crane. The refurbished pair of oak lock gates measure five metres high and together weigh nearly seven tonnes, the equivalent of two elephants.
The North West canal winter works programme includes:
Daniel Greenhalgh, North West regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said: "With many of the regions' canals constructed over two centuries ago, it’s important to stay on top of regular maintenance and keep the waterways in good condition. We always try to minimise inconvenience to boaters by carrying out this routine work in the winter months.
"Research proves people feel happier and healthier by water and over the pandemic particularly, waterways have offered a valuable lifeline for so many, providing perfect spots for local recreation and exercise. That’s why it’s so important that we keep them open and safe for everyone to use, whether people enjoy a waterside stroll, cycling, boating or angling.
"Our specialist engineering teams have continued to work in covid-safe bubbles throughout the lockdowns. They have had to deal with some incredibly challenging weather, including Storm Christoph, bringing storm damage and flooding. They’ve made great progress over the last few months and by carrying out these works, we will be protecting our historic waterways for future generations - ensuring they continue to make a real difference to people’s lives today."
This winter, we are investing more than £45m on maintenance work across its 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.