THE Canal & River Trust has launched a winter fundraising appeal to ‘Keep Anderton Boat Lift Alive’.
This is as it undertakes a major refurbishment project to ensure the lift remains operational for the next generation.
Yet it had a major overhaul early this year when one of its rams had been reconditioned, (pictured) it closed during the winter.
But it now needs an upgrade to enable the ageing machinery to continue transporting—the trust tells—around 3,000 boats a year, 50 feet between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Weaver Navigation below.
The trust relates, that in addition to the work required to preserve and protect the structure, there is also a proposal for upgrades to the visitor centre, amenities, and grounds surrounding the boat lift, as well as plans to construct a contemporary education and events space and the development of new learning, skills, and outreach programmes.
The first milestone was achieved last December, when the Trust was awarded a £574,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the development phase of this essential project.
Canal & River Trust project manager Fran Littlewood explains:
“Anderton Boat Lift is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and it is our mission to keep it operational for generations to come.
“By January 2024, we are looking to appoint the main contractor, who will design and plan the works programme over the summer. The trust will be seeking further grant funding and support from local businesses and philanthropists, which will be vital in enabling us to deliver the project.
Closed for over a year
“If all goes well, the plan will be to close the lift in early summer 2025 and reopen it 12 to 18 months later. This means that boaters and visitors can expect to enjoy a full season of boating in 2024 and potentially a short window around the following Easter, before it is wrapped in a protective encapsulation skin to give it a special 150th anniversary upgrade.
“Ever since the boat lift was created to provide a vital trade link between the river and canal, it has been a challenge to maintain. Salty water meant the original hydraulic rams rusted and seized up, and these were eventually replaced with a 1908 electric pulley system to haul the boat caissons up and down. In 1983, 75 years later, it was declared unsafe and shut down for nearly two decades before it was restored around the Millennium.
“It is remarkable that this impressive, eclectic heritage structure is still working. If we deliver this important upgrade project now, it will hopefully ensure that we keep Anderton Boat Lift alive for many years to come - continuing to delight thousands of visitors and connecting two busy waterways for boaters.”
To donate to the ‘Keep Anderton Alive’ appeal, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/keepandertonalive.
Boat trips through the lift stop for the 2023 summer season at the end of October. Over winter (November to March), the Anderton Boat Lift & Visitor Centre continues to welcome visitors to the café and site at weekends only. Saturdays and Sundays, 9.30am – 4.30pm.
The trust’s popular Santa Cruises will run on all four weekends through December running up to Christmas.