Will C&RT allow a real restorer to adopt a canal lock flight?

June 2017 - There are signs that Canal & River Trust may be coming to terms with what is swiftly becoming the foremost organisation seeking to restore the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal, Peter Underwood reports.

As his Owd Lanky Boaters Group hits 1,000 members Colin Ogden has been in talks with C&RT to take over responsibility for the Tewitfield lock flight – the first major structure on the abandoned section of the canal.

Colin, a relentless optimist, is positive about the prospects of getting the go-ahead after a meeting with C&RT and is in the process of forming a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) to manage the project.

He said: “I had a meeting Roy Gibbons, Canal & River Trust waterway supervisor and Alice Kay, a project officer with the Canal & River Trust to discuss my application to adopt the Tewitfield Locks section.

“I explained what we would like to do, including clearing all the vegetation on the off-side of lock chambers, cleaning all the by-wash channels, repairing any pointing etc.

“I also said that we would like to clear the site where the Lock Keepers cottage and stables were, next to lock , which were sadly demolished when M6 was built. Why ,I do not know, as it is nowhere near the motorway, and was no hindrance to it's construction.

“We would like to make the site a place for people to rest, with benches, a picnic area and wildlife haven.

“Other tasks will include keeping the tow path free of debris, erecting information boards about the Canals history, and clearing the pounds between the locks to improve water flow."

And Colin also has a bigger vision of linking the navigable canal with the Tewitfield lock flight, which runs beside the M6 motorway.

“I also mentioned that we are going to try our best to raise funds to get a new tunnel under the A6070, Burton Rd,” he said, “hopefully in time to celebrate the Northern reaches Bi centenary in 2019, and refurb a lock or two.

“I also mentioned the old smithy at bridge 140, and with my ongoing negotiations with the owners, as we hope to fully restore it, along with the adjacent wharf, when I get permission.”

He is now waiting for the response from Canal & River Trust to what must be the most ambitious adoption ever suggested to the organisation. It is certainly the case that the Trust's canal adoption concept has been much more about keeping canals tidy rather than restoring them.

It will be fascinating to see how they respond, given that they have done little to encourage any large scale restoration by the Lancashire Canal Trust, and barred the Trust from working on the canal for nearly two years after a minor row about the painting of milestones.

Colin is delighted at all the support he is receiving and his Owd Lanky Boaters group has now topped 1,000 members and is increasingly active in the local community.

Said Colin. “Old Lanky Boaters are supporting the Glasson Dock Thurnam Cof E Primary School Summer Fair which Captain Jack will open Sunday 16 July. Captain Jack and I took ‘Whimbrel’ down Tuesday 13th June as a special treat for the children, with prizes for the best pirate drawings.

“Plans are also being formulated for the Glasson Maritime Festival in 2018.”

A group member has recently produced a video showing the canal linking Tewitfield with Crooklands and Stainton.

Photos: (1st) A 1968 protest about the closure of the Northern Reaches by the building of the M6 motorway, (2nd) Colin Ogden at BBC Radio Lancashire, (3rd) The lock keeper's cottage before demolition - Colin wants to make the site a focus of the locks, (4th) Owd Lanky Boaters' application to adopt the Tewitfield lock flight.

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