Thursday, 15 October 2009

Is British Waterways Locked Out?

I heard recently that British Waterways were going to do some work on the locks from here on the Rufford Branch to the Leeds Liverpool canal. I don’t know if that meant “all” or just “some” we laughed at the time because none of us believe this to be true. As an example, this is the state of lock seven on the Rufford canal, and has been for a long, long time. 

Back gates, haven’t been left open deliberately, they just won’t meet in the middle… 


Front gates, looking in need of repair with water flowing through them…


Both sets of gates, spot the faults… 


Even worse, the front one is still leaking despite the amount of water coming down the run off…

The walkway bridge from one side to the other is slowly rotting away… 


The new “handrail” on the RHS side is just bare wood that hasn’t even been treated… 


And there’s six more like this before we can get onto the Leeds Liverpool canal. Some have worse problems, several people who’ve come here (seasoned boaters), have mentioned that they are some of the most awkward / difficult locks they’ve ever come across.

Believe it or not the Rufford Branch is the main artery to the Ribble Link, the upkeep should at least be up to the standard of a main road. (Which isn’t wonderful these days but it doesn’t even come close to that).

I’ve checked for stoppages on Waterscape and contrary to what we’ve heard there are no plans for any improvements round here. Last year there was a stoppage listed for Lathom locks 1 and 2, and work was actually carried out.

Unfortunately we’ve been through them since then and nothing seems to be any different, they may have replaced the lock gates. We’re not sure, but they still didn’t repair the sluice paddle, (yes it’s a paddle that lifts up vertically). That hasn’t been working for two years now! In all that time it’s been chained down to the ground, hence one of the two biggest locks of the seven takes ages to fill. 

Leaks in lock gates are everywhere leading up to the Leeds Liverpool canal and in contrast to the photo above, there’s a lock whereby one gate won’t open fully, we can only just get our boat through it.

There is a winding hole somewhere, so you could actually do two or three locks, moor up somewhere, and turn without having to do all seven locks. (I’ve started so I’ll finish). But unfortunately the winding hole is very overgrown and it’s doubtful that any boat, say over 50ft (being generous) could turn there without being grounded. We certainly couldn’t, no one else we know would even risk it either, even out of sheer curiosity!

We've seen people go backwards through lock 7 so they can moor up for a party and come back in without having to negotiate 14 locks there and back first! Once you're through lock 7 from this end, that's it, you've to do all 7, turn on the Leeds Liverpool canal and do all 7 back, there’s no choice.

There was much concern earlier this year from British Waterways of serious problems on the Leeds Liverpool canal with it being very low on water due to lack of maintenance and leaks.

So: HELLO MISTER BRITISH WATERWAYS, THERE’S HUNDREDS OF GALLONS OF THE LEEDS LIVERPOOL BEING SYPHONED OFF HERE EVERY DAY, so why not do something about it? Oh, and in case it hasn't registered yet, that means repairing the dreadful and dangerous state of the locks on the Rufford arm to help prevent such leakage from the main canal!

Enough said...

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