Has peace broken out on the Lanky?

July 2017 - In one of the few pieces of positive news to come from the Lancaster Canal it seems the Canal & River Trust has agreed to Colin Ogden and his fast-growing Owd Lanky Boaters Group adopting an abandoned lock flight, Peter Underwood reports.

The Trust seems to have acknowledged that Colin Ogden's Owd Lanky Boaters Group is an active and effective restoration body on the Lancaster Canal by agreeing it can adopt the first lock flight of the abandoned Northern Reaches at Tewitfield and Colin has praised the Trust's swift response.

Following a meeting earlier this week Roy Gibbons, C&RT's Customer Service Supervisor on the Lancaster Canal emailed Colin to say: “ With regards to the adoption we have agreed to the Owd Lanky Boaters Group adopting the lock flight at Tewitfield for the next 12 months subject to programmes works we agreed with CRT colleagues on site yesterday with full Risk Assessment Management Schemes being in place before works start and monthly reviews”.

Roy, went on to say: “I thought the adoption meeting at Tewitfield yesterday went very well. We agreed to start with the bye weir clearance and then review the lime pointing subject to a panel test.”

Given the recent history of Colin's extremely effective publicity campaign for the restoration of the northern section of the canal from Tewitfield to Kendal in the Lake District, in some contrast to the efforts of other official Lancaster canal bodies, it is interesting that Roy adds: “I think we both agree that good publicity in conjunction with C&RT and Owd Lanky Boaters Group is the way forward with this Adoption. Please give me a call if you need any further assistance. I look forward to working with you.”

Colin Ogden is delighted with the opportunity to start restoring the Tewitfield locks and wants to get straight down to work: “We will be commencing work at Lock 8 ,clearing the bye wash channel. to start remedial pointing, grouting the lock chamber walls, painting the lock coping stones and the removal of invasive vegetation.

“Our aim is an end result of eventually fitting new lock gates. We have permission to work on all the locks and have gained landowners permission for offside access. All heritage work will comply with current legislation.”

Colin has also praised C&RT. “Mr Roy Gibbons of C&RT, has been extremely co-operative in our quest to take on this work, and we thank him for this.

And he is determined that the lock flight is just the start of real restoration on the Northern Reaches: “Our other main aim is to install a new tunnel under the A6070 Burton Road, which was cut off in 1968 when the M6 motorway sliced through the canal in several places. This will hopefully be achieved for the Northern reaches bicentenary in 2019.”

Colin went on to make a plea for even more volunteers to join his 1,000 strong group: “We need volunteer tradesmen to help us as we intend to pass on these traditional skills as work progresses.”

Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Colin has already arranged with local farmer Roger Mason at Greenlands Farm to access offside land at the first three locks and as soon as the adoption went through Colin sent off all the paperwork setting up his group's Community Interest Company (CIC) which will make it easier to access grants and other funding for his work. It is called the Northern Reaches Restoration CIC.

Photos: (1st) The current terminus of the canal at Tewitfield - Colin wants to tunnel under the road embankment to reach the lock flight his group has adopted, (2nd) The lock keeper's cottage at Tewitfield before the canal was abandoned in the 1960s, (3rd) The bottom lock of the Tewitfield site - it sits alongside the M6 motorway which has sliced the Northern Reaches in several spots, (4th) The Tewitfield locks are currently without gates and part of a water feed to the southern end of the Lancaster Canal, (5th) Map showing the land around Tewitfield locks, (6th) Colin Ogden has run a highly successful publicity campaign for restoring the Northern Reaches, (7th) Part of Colin's campaign has been launching his boat Whimbrell on sections of the Northern Reaches still in water, (8th) His Owd Lanky Boaters Group has cleared the canal bed and restored bridges on the dry sections.

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