Yobs killing the Rochdale Canal

Published: Friday, 08 September 2017

THE crews of two boats had a terrifying time working through a lock on the Rochdale Canal as 18 hooded yobs descended on them doing all they could to prevent them working the lock, leaving the men and women badly shaken.

Yobs2 FailsworthThe boaters were all liveaboards and were justifiably worried about their possessions as they attempted to negotiate Lock 66 at Failsworth on the Rochdale Canal. The crews were attempting to descend the lock, but as the boats came in the gang jumped on the boats, rocking them and slinging equipment off the roofs, so the owners locked the doors so none could enter the boats, Alan Tilbury reports.

Jumped about the boats

There were five people on the two boats that were terrorised by the 18 being overwhelmed by their behaviour, dodging from the stones that were being thrown at them and trying desperately to escape being knocked from their boats as the yobs jumped about them, yelling and shouting and preventing the crews from operating the lock by opening the top gates that had been closed and pushing against the bottom gates as the crew was attempting to open them.

Yobs failsworthOne boater, who obviously does not want to be identified told the Manchester Evening News:

“When the boats came down they put their hoods over their faces. For the women it was a very, very scary moment, it was nerve-racking for the guys as well.

"They started jumping on the boats and rocking them. It was really dangerous, if they had got crushed between the boat and the wall they could have got seriously injured or killed."

Terrible reputation

The boater told it was his first time on the canal—and obviously his last:

"Nothing like this has ever happened to us before. But it’s our first time on the Rochdale Canal—it has this terrible reputation.

"People don’t like stopping on it. Just before that incident this group of girls were shouting at us further up the canal, and one started spitting in our direction.”

The estates around Failsworth are regarded as the 'sink' estates of Manchester, economically deprived with high unemployment and many roaming gangs intent upon trouble, with the canal a popular target.

rochJamieJohnRiding 'shotgun'

It was in September 2002, the year it re-opened, that we also descended the Rochdale Canal through Failsworth, but in those days the then British Waterways had two of its staff riding 'shotgun' with the boats in convoy. But Canal & River Trust no longer provide such deterrent, leaving boaters to fend for themselves, that has obviously resulted in a free-for-all as far as the yobs are concerned.  The picture shows Jamie and John who accompanied the boats, locking gates after all had passed through.

But with instances like this, the £25 millions spent on its restoration will be wasted, as no boater in his or her right mind will risk having to work a lock battling against 18 yobs intent upon stopping them.

That part of the Rochdale Canal is a definite no-go.