Canal Watch for the Rochdale

Published: Wednesday, 12 August 2009

ANYONE reading narrowboatworld will know that the Rochdale Canal is a favourite haunt for vandals, but it is getting so bad that a Canal Watch has been instigated by police and councils.

It is not only boaters that have to be careful, especially where they moor on the West side of the waterway, and towpath walkers are also likely to be mugged. But it has been the wanton destruction of towpath furniture that has caused the police from Failsworth and Chadderton to patrol the canal.

Though it was a while ago since many new interpretation boards were either pulled up or disfigured, the local councils have now instigated a Canal Watch scheme, with members of the public helping the patrols of the area, after further destruction and grafitti.

Inspector Dave Willcocks stated:

"It is a very positive step forward in making the canal cleaner and safer."

The anti social behaviour around this area means that boaters have to be accompanied by British Waterways people when cruising, and the lock gates are securely fastened outside this period to prevent boaters 'going it alone'. The picture shows a BW worker operating the gates at a lock at Newton Heath, a favourite location for anti-social activity.

During our own cruise along this part of the canal, we were bombarded by empty beer cans at the recognised 'safe' mooring, and we finished up moored for the night under a motorway tunnel that had no towpath, and a promise that we 'would never risk it again.'

It is a great pity, for the canal over the Pennines, is stunning, but the area around its re-opened West side is accepted as being one of the most deprived in the country.