The Canal & River Trust has announced its winter works programme 2022-23, providing details of the major repairs and canal improvements the charity will be carrying out between November and March.

Cw 7034 Silt being removed from Lune embankment 5.2.20
Photo: Colin Wareing

48 waterways will benefit from 172 large-scale works to repair masonry and brickwork, fix leaks, update and install hydraulics and electrics at mechanised structures, as well as replacing seals, stop plank grooves, lock ladders and lock gates. The Trust’s specialist workshops are handcrafting 120 lock leaves for the works, to be installed at 52 locks across the network.

As usual, the Trust is carrying out the works in winter to minimise disruption to boaters over the busier summer cruising months and will be aiming to avoid the Christmas period when more boats take to the water. 72 stoppages are due to take place before Christmas, with 93 scheduled for the new year, and a small number spanning the festive season.

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Works aimed at improving navigation for boaters will be taking place across the network. On the Kennet & Avon Canal, there is a suite of lock gate replacements between locks 52 and 65, including works at Crofton Pumping Station. The Queen Elizabeth Lock at Caen Hill will also be re-grouted to reduce leakage. Lock 3 at Hillmorton will see its gates replaced and a number of lift bridges on the Oxford Canal will have their hydraulics renovated. There are lock gate replacements at Tardebigge Flight on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, gate repairs and replacements at Audlem on the Shropshire Union Canal, and on the Hanwell Flight on the Grand Union Canal in London.

In the north of the country, which has been battling difficult drought conditions this summer, the Trust will continue its programme of water-saving repair works, after utilising the unscheduled canal closures to complete some repairs early. One such project was at Bosley Lock Flight on the Macclesfield Canal, where dozens of essential tasks, including the relining or replacement of lock gates and work on cills, paddles, mitres, spindles and quadrants were brought-forward, alongside mortar repairs, painting, re-pointing and the creation of a new boater landing stage.

Canals including the Leeds & Liverpool, Rochdale, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, and Huddersfield Narrow will see gate replacements and repairs, grouting, relining, masonry works to washwalls and other improvements over the winter. This is on top of the Trust’s major investment to future-proof its reservoirs, which are vital to the network’s boating demands, which will continue over the winter. This includes the ongoing work at Toddbrook and Barrowford reservoirs in the North West.

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Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “As boaters know, we work year-round to maintain navigations but the work we carry out over the winter is at the heart of it. While there are some familiar names on this year’s list of work locations, the majority of the winter works are the ongoing repairs we need to undertake every year to keep the waterways navigable and safe: replacing older lock gates, repairing bridges, locks and aqueducts, and fixing defects.  

“We’re also continuing our programme of the works needed to strengthen the resilience of our 250-year-old infrastructure, with climate change – both heavy rain and drought – presenting significant and costly challenges to assets which were built when industrial civil engineering was first being developed.

“Navigation depends on having a resilient network, while safe and accessible waterways help improve the lives of millions of people in waterside communities and act as green corridors that bring huge benefits for nature recovery. It’s more important than ever that these historic waterways are properly funded so we can preserve them for boaters, neighbours, and all those who spend time by them.” 

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The full winter stoppage programme can be viewed on the Notices & Stoppages page of the Trust’s website: canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices

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