Rochdale Canal closure

Published: Friday, 27 July 2018

THE Canal & River Trust has today, Friday, announced the 'temporary' closure of the Rochdale Canal.

Its press release states that with regret, due to the serious shortfall in the water supply, the Canal & River Trust is having to bring forward the temporary closure of a large section of the Rochdale Canal with immediate effect as the hot, dry weather continues. Even if there is much welcome rainfall this weekend it is unlikely to make any immediate difference to the canal water levels in the short term.

Pre-runner of more permanent closure

However, in the past the 'temporary' closure of a navigation has usually proved to be the pre-runner of its more permanent closure as in the case of both the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals.

The trust goes on to inform us that the closure between locks 1 and 48 (from Sowerby Bridge to Littleborough) was due to take effect from Monday 6th August; however in practice, with water supplies continuing to decline, we can no longer support anything other than very local boat traffic in this section. The closure will also now include the stretch between locks 6 and 19 which the Trust had originally planned to keep open for a period every day. Instead the Trust will liaise closely with all boaters on this section to ensure they can access vital services when possible, offering restricted, controlled passage. Other than this all locks will be secured and out of use.

Throughout August and beyond

Daniel Greenhalgh from the trust explains:

“We have done everything we can to keep this stretch of the Rochdale Canal open for boaters for as long as possible. However the practical reality is that we just don’t have sufficient water to keep it open for navigation any longer. Whilst we appreciate that this is disappointing, we do not want to see boaters getting into difficulties or the local environment harmed with the potential risk to fish stocks and other wildlife now a critical factor.”

It is not clear how long the closure will have to last, but it is stated that it is likely to be throughout August, and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall.

Anglers, Canoeists and towpath visitors

The trust ends by stating that while the closure will prevent use of this stretch of canal by boats, it can still be used by anglers and canoeists and the towpaths will remain open for people—visitors and the local community alike—to enjoy.