Victor reckons there's nothing to celebrate

Published: Sunday, 26 June 2022

SO THE Canal & River Trust is celebrating '21 years since the rebirth of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the grand reopening of Standedge Tunnel'.

Well, mates, I've news for you—you have absolutely nothing to celebrate.

Since taking over the waterways some ten years ago you have allowed the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to continually deteriorate resulting in endless stoppages caused by the lack of maintenance. And as for the Standedge Tunnel at the moment only four boats a week are allowed through.

And you are celebrating! 

Let's take stock from the British Waterways original Fact Sheet that tells it cost £32 millions and created a challenging new route for boaters and set to deliver an economic boost along its route creating as many as 7,000 jobs.

tescoChallenging route indeed. Since the 1st of May to today (Sunday)—eight weeksit has had a 'Navigation: Closed' nine times! 

Yes my friends, closed nine times, including a culvert taking weeks to repair, challenging indeed, eh? As for the 7,000 jobs, a virtually 'dead' waterway, for that is what it is, will attract very little, as has well proved, with a decent Tesco just about the sum total.

And with such a severe restriction on boats passing through the tunnel, what to us was one of the best waterways experiences ever—taking two trips in addition to the Press cruise—but Canal & River Trust reduces its usage drastically—and thus the whole waterway.

Yet it celebrates!

Now it's Standedge Pride!

It seems the Standedge Tunnel has a change of use.

So much so that we now have a Standedge Pride event at the tunnel, that we are led to believe attracted a whooping 1,200 visitors to the event where the tunnel 'offered the picture-perfect backdrop for the family-friendly party'.

Held last Sunday it features a Drag DJ set by Gypsy Darling, a reading of ‘Rab and his Lucky Shell’ by Andrea Bowker, stall holders, the union UNISON and West Yorkshire Police joining the celebrations.

With of course boat trips for visitors in and out of the tunnel at its northern end.

What's it all about I just haven't a clue.

AndertonPumpHouseAnderton our of action

The recent repairs to Anderton Boat Lift disclosed excessive wear on the seals of the west ram which has damaged the ram coating, and so is in need of urgent attention.

It was only when the seals of the rams were examined during 'feasibility work' that it was discovered the ram coating was damaged.

So what now? You may ask.

Obvious—the lift is going to be out of action for a long time.  The only hope for boaters wanting to use the lift is that the trust will have the sense to undertake the work in the winter and not during the present season.

After all it tells that at least it is able to use just one caisson to transport the boats.

WilstonePlenty of the wet stuff

Whilst many waterways are suffering water shortage, there is no shortage around the summit of the Grand Union.

For in addition to his photographs of the reservoirs serving the summit, Howard Clarke has sent us one taken during the the week of Wilstone Reservoir that has plenty of water, remarking:

"Not overflowing but certainly not low. I do wonder if these reservoirs hold as much water as the did years ago?

"Have they become silted up? I can remember 50+ years ago seeing huge shoals of big bream (Wilstone held the record) they have all gone."

There is certainly no call for any restrictions here.

Victor Swift