Anderton Lift delays cause protests

June 2017 - The operators of fuel boats – some of the only true working boats left on the waterways – are usually stoical types, accustomed to the problems of an old and creaking system – but sometimes it gets to them, as Peter Underwood reports.

HalsalI, operated by Martin Catterall as Four Counties Fuels regularly uses the Anderton Lift as part of his delivery route, dropping down to service boats on the River Weaver.

He was moved to make a Facebook post two weeks ago saying: “I am completely appalled at the length of time it is taking the Anderton Boat Lift to repair a fault, which I am told is a fairly simple one that just requires a new part. As far as i am aware it is now almost six weeks that they have been providing a substandard service to customers.

“Can I ask anybody who has been affected by these problems to start complaining. Have you had to change your plans, wait several days for a passage, or indeed cancelled your trip on the River Weaver all together?

“Perhaps you just agree that it is unacceptable. You can email a complaint to

“You can also publicly tell them via social media that you have been or are unhappy with the service they are providing due to the ongoing and seemingly never ending technical issues with the lift. The Anderton Boat lift can be found on Facebook & Twitter or you can use the Canal & River Trust Facebook and Twitter pages to voice your dissatisfaction.

“I am disappointed to resort to a public rant, but feel this is the only option now to encourage action.”

It has taken another two weeks for The Floater to get a response from the Canal & River Trust to the delays but eventually one arrived on Monday.

“The Lift first failed on the 29 April 2017 due to a fault with the gear box. As the Lift is 140 years old the mechanisms that are used are unique to the structure and our contractors had to commission a new gear box to be made in Italy.

“We were originally given a four-week repair time, which was extended to Friday 23 June.

“As of Friday the gearbox was being held at Customs: we are hoping that this will be released today (Monday) for same day delivery. As soon as it arrives our team will fix the gear box onto the gate and, after testing, the Lift will be fully operational again.

“I’m sure you’ll appreciate that with such a unique structure when something goes wrong repairs aren’t always as straightforward as we’d like – the joys and challenges of working with such an important part of our waterways heritage!

“We’re very sorry of the inconvenience this has caused to our customers while we work on getting everything back in working order.”

Photo: Halsall entering one of the caissons on the Anderton Lift - published on Facebook.

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