Peak Forest Canal opens at long last

Published: Saturday, 15 June 2024

IT WAS way back on the 16th of August last year that Lock 7 on the Peak Forest Canal was closed for repairs.

And yesterday, Friday 14th June, it was finally opened for navigation—ten months later! Keith Gudgin reports.

Significant subsidence

During August we were told that after the Canal & River Trust investigation it was discovered that there was 'significant subsidence of the lock side, along with movement of the lock chamber wall',

So specialist contractors were brought in to carry out an in-depth survey of the lock.

Resulting in being told by the trust: '...the repair will require substantial work and the lock will remain closed for an extended period of time. Whilst this is disappointing news, we are evaluating the design and method of the repair and will be doing our best to make sure it is prioritised in our works programme as soon as possible'.

The trust adding: 'Our engineering team and contractors will be making sure that the design is both robust and cost effective. We will keep customers fully updated throughout and share any further updates including expected start and completion dates as soon as possible. In addition to our apologies, we share the frustration that this unplanned and costly work will have on the navigation, particularly given the substantial and extensive work undertaken earlier this year to secure water resources for the Peak Forest canal.

Work still not started

Yet came the end of January—five months later—but the actual work still had not started!

Just repeating the original information that it was discovered that the towpath side lock wall had suffered significant movement which prevented the safe operation of the lock!

So now the lock wall had to be dismantled and rebuilt. With the work actually starting in February—six months later. So much for the promises.

Aylesbury Lock 12And so it went on month after month,  whilst contractors struggled to undertake the actual work. until now, at last, the Marple Flight is reopened again for navigation.

But for how long?


But let's have a comparison with the lock on the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal that just did not suffer 'significant subsidence' but was greatly distorted, as can be seen. earning itself the name a the 'banana lock' such was its distorted shape.

This was in the time of British Waterways, who had people who knew what they were doing and so the lock was entirely rebuilt in a matter of weeks. (Regret with 15,409 pages to search, I am unable to discover the actual time it took, but I remember it was just weeks and not months, a great deal less than the one on the Marple Flight—Editor.)