Work on the Huddersfield Narrow

Published: Friday, 06 November 2009

THE Huddersfield Narrow Canal, that was closed owing to a breach with water leaking into a factory, is to have a winter overhaul.

As part of its annual maintenance programme, British Waterways will be undertaking a £445,000 project of essential works along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal over the next few weeks.

The maintenance will include the replacement of eight lock leaves on six lock gates along the canal, as well as repairs to a breach of the ground paddle culvert and leakage through the lock wall at Lock 14, or ‘Ramsden's Lock', as it's known.

British Waterways staff will be fitting the new lock gates which have been made at the British Waterways' Stanley Ferry Workshop in Wakefield. The old lock gates will be recycled and reused for other projects.

Lock gates are constructed with tremendous strength as they have to control huge water pressures and take the hard usage they get from the thousands of boats which use them each year. In order to be waterproof they also need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other. In addition they are expected to survive for a long time underwater and at the mercy of the elements.

David Baldacchino, Waterways Manager for British Waterways Manchester & Pennine region, explained:

"Lock gate making and fitting is an extremely skilled and traditional trade, and one that remains essential to our waterways. My staff put a huge amount of planning and dedicated work in to ensure that the canals stay open, accessible and in good working order and lock gate replacements such as this are a prime example of that.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is has 74 locks, plus the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in the country. Construction of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was sanctioned by an Act of Parliament in 1794. When it finally opened to navigation in 1811, it became the third trans-pennine waterway after the Leeds & Liverpool and Rochdale canals.