'Makeover' for two Ashton locks

Published: Friday, 03 December 2010

PART of the winter maintenance is repointing and replacing missing brickwork on two locks on the Ashton Canal, removing vegetation within the lock chambers and carrying out gate cills repairs whilst the locks are dewatered.

Being Grade II listed structures, even this work meant that British Waterways' Heritage Advisor, Andrew Tegg, had to work closely with Tameside Council's conservation team to gain planning consent to carry out the repairs due to the locks historical significance. Lock 15 is pictured above.

Will cost £150,000

The repair works will cost around £150,000 and are being carried out by British Waterways contractor May Gurney. The works are expected to last until the end of December. This picture is if Lock 16.

Dilwyn Parry, Project Manager, British Waterways explained:

"The repairs to Lock 15 and Lock 16 on the Ashton Canal are interesting due to their heritage value. With the majority of our canals approaching their 250th birthdays, it is essential that we continue with a programme of maintenance to keep them open, accessible and in good order. "

Carrying coal

The Ashton Canal was promoted to carry coal from the mines of Ashton and Oldham to Manchester. In 1792 an Act of Parliament was lodged to create a company to be called the Manchester, Ashton-under-Lyne and Oldham Canal, with the original scheme completed in 1796, running from a large basin behind what is now Piccadilly Station in Manchester, climbing gradually eastwards via 18 locks to Fairfield, Droylsden.

In the first half of the nineteenth century the Ashton Canal prospered, traffic being so great that the company started to convert the locks into double (twin) locks, although they only completed the two Fairfield locks, 17 and 18.

However, the coming of the Railway Age saw a loss of trade for the canals. In 1848, the railway, now the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, bought the Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals in order to feed goods into their railway system.