Floods: counting the sizeable cost
The flood waters may have receded, but there’s a lot of work to be done to get the Pennine waterways fully up and running again
AN APPEAL FOR donations, a call for volunteer support, a series of bids for Government cash and an assessment of the damage and the work needed are all in progress as the Canal & River Trust faces the challenge of repairing and re-opening the Pennine waterways after the floods of late December.
The initial response to the floods, in which there was serious damage to the Rochdale Canal, Aire & Calder Navigation and Calder & Hebble Navigation, was to concentrate on making the waterways safe and dealing with hazards to towpath users. By the first full week in January the Trust was able to begin a full inspection of most of the waterways affected and to start planning repairs – and thinking about the costs and where the money would come from.
On the Calder & Hebble Navigation the biggest job will be at Elland Bridge where flood water washed away the towpath and caused movement of the bridge to the point where water mains fractured and washed out the entire infill over the arch. It has now been agreed by heritage bodies that the Grade 2 listed structure can be taken down and completely rebuilt.
Most of the other damage on the C& H is also on the upper section, including severe damage to Crowner Bridge, erosion of locksides at Elland and Park Nook locks, embankment damage where the river overflowed into canal sections, and towpath washouts and damage to banks. Further downstream there is an embankment washout at Figure of Three Locks.
The Rochdale Canal has suffered along much of the length between Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden. Major problems include a landslip blocking the canal near Lock 15, damage to a narrow embankment between the river and canal which came close to breaching near Callis Mill, and the foot of another nearby embankment washed out by the river. Many sections of towpath and canal wall were washed out. The diagram opposite shows just one section.
On the Aire & Calder Navigation, Knostrop Weir below Leeds was completely washed away and the lock island damaged, with a number of boats washed downstream to Fishpond Lock (one was still missing and presumed sunk as we went to press).
On the Yorkshire Ouse there was believed to be damage at Linton Lock and Boroughbridge but, in late January, the river levels were only just dropping enough to permit investigation.
And finally, on the Leeds & Liverpool there was only minor damage other than a landslip into the Springs Branch which occurred several days later; while Stainton Aqueduct on the Lancaster failed before the main floods – see page 6 for more on both of these incidents.
Those are the obvious jobs, but there is other less visible work needed – primarily dredging of silt brought down by flood water. In particular, the
Embankment eroded by river near Stubbins
Landslip blocking canal at Shaw Wood
Length of towpath washed out at Figure of Three Locks