Campaign to open duplicated locks

Published: Friday, 03 July 2009

THE Stoke-on Trent Branch of the Inland Waterways Association and the Trent & Mersey Canal Society have launched a campaign to reopen the disused locks on Heartbreak Hill.

The locks on the Cheshire Flight on the Trent & Mersey Canal, well known as Heartbreak Hill, were duplicated in the 1880's to relieve the congestion due to heavy commercial traffic.

Last year, it was estimated that there were around 6000 passages, through the locks, a record since their commercial heyday. Currently, nine of the original duplicated locks are closed or filled in. The ever-increasing popularity of the Four Counties and Cheshire cruising rings, both taking in the locks, is leaving the association and the society believing it has become important to investigate whether some or all of the closed locks should be reinstated. Lack of funding over several years has meant that the closed locks never get on to the winter maintenance programme.

However, the picture above taken during May shows that BW is in fact repairing the duplicated locks.

During a survey carried out jointly with British Waterways' Unit Manager Julie Sharman on the upper part of the flight earlier in the year, it was established that nearly half the paddles were hard to operate. British Waterways are working to improve matters, and are supportive of the project.

Mike Palmer from the Waterway Recovery Group visited the flight during June to assess what role volunteers might play in bringing these locks back into use.

Campaign organiser Roger Savage has written to all boat yards and hire firms on the Four Counties and Cheshire rings seeking their support. Boaters and other users are encouraged to complete the questionnaire on the website