THE Canal & River Trust is investing around £250,000 on essential repairs to the 200-year old Ashton Canal in Droyslden and Openshaw this winter.
Skilled workmen and engineers from the trust will be repairing the Grade II Listed locks 6, 7 and 15 on the canal. Work will involve craning out the old lock gates before new ones are fitted, as well as repointing and replacing missing brickwork from the lock chambers.
The six-mile-long Ashton Canal was originally built in 1792 to serve the coal industry around Oldham, Ashton and Hyde and in particular to compete with the Worsley mines.
David Baldacchino, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Ashton Canal is much loved by local people and boaters and is the gateway to the popular South Pennine cruising ring. This year we’re investing quite a bit of money into repairing and installing new lock gates. It’s painstaking, specialised work but, the canal is such an important part of the region’s heritage that it’s right that we devote time and attention on its conservation.”
The new lock gates are hand-crafted using traditional methods in the Trust’s specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire. A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and has a working life of between 25 and 30 years. In order to be watertight they need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.