Colin begins on Lanky lock flight

August 2017 - After three years of lobbying, talking to local landowners and facing hostility from other waterways organisations Colin Ogden and his Owd Lanky Boaters group has started the restoration of the Tewitfield lock flight – and it's with the blessing of the Canal & River Trust – reports Peter Underwood.

Many thought they might never see the day when The Owd Lanky Boaters and the Canal & River Trust teamed up in a community-led restoration of the Tewitfield Locks, near Carnforth in Lancashire.

The persistence of local boater Colin Ogden, eventually led to C&RT agreeing his group could formally adopt and begin restoration work and planning has been underway for some time, investigating the best way to repair and bring back to life the Lancaster Canal's abandoned Northern Reaches lock system, then the remainder of the canal, through the lovely Burton and Crooklands sections and closer to Kendal in the Lake District.

Work got underway with clearing out bottom lock by-wash in preparation to emptying the lock and pointing and repairing the stonework, before further work can be attempted.

Many local firms have pledged their support and all health and safety issues and risk assessments have been overseen by Canal & River Trust, who assisted with supplying shovels, picks, safety equipment and life jackets.

Colin said. “I cannot stress too much how helpful Canal & River Trust staff have been in this unique event. Local landowners have given permission for access, where needed, and firms loaning scaffolding and the like don't need asking.

“It has been touching, and quite emotional, to see the response and friendliness.”

Around 14 stalwart volunteers, split into groups, managed to clear the by-wash, and there is another work party next weekend.

There is more good news for the Northern Reaches as C&RT has secured initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop plans to restore and reopen the Grade II listed Stainton Aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal near Sedgwick, in Cumbria.

Development funding of £41,000 will enable the Trust to work on a second stage application to be submitted in November. If successful, the bid will unlock £1.5m from HLF towards a total project value of £2.2m.

The project will fund repairs to Stainton Aqueduct, which was badly damaged during storms Desmond and Eva in December 2015. It will also help to develop other key sites along the Lancaster Canal, such as Hincaster Tunnel and Sedgewick Aqueduct, and promote new educational and volunteering opportunities along the waterway.

The Grade ll listed Stainton Aqueduct was built in 1819 and carries the Lancaster Canal, over Stainton Beck. Prior to the damage caused during extreme rainfall in the December 2015 storms, the aqueduct was in good condition. Emergency stabilisation works costing £250,000 were not sufficient to open up the structure to public use.

Meanwhile on the navigable section of the Lancaster Canal, south of Tewitfield, the annual fight against duckweed is under way.

C&RT has begun the task of removing millions the floating duck weed and last week the it cleared a mile-long section between Hollinshead Fold Bridge and Ashton Basin.

Nationally over 70 tonnes of duck weed per week has been collected which, if left to thrive, can cause problems for other aquatic wildlife by starving it of oxygen and sunlight. ​

Photos: (1st) The honour of cutting the first sod went to Colin, (2nd) The popular Ben of Canal & River Trust giving safety instruction to one of the groups, (3rd) Beginning to clear the by-wash, (4th) Clearing duck weed.

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