Friday, October 12, 2012

The Impossible Restoration.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal was built to connect to the Broad Canal at Aspley Wharf in the middle of the town. Intended to service outlying textile mills further up the Colne Valley, and ultimately to reach  markets in Manchester, it was almost completed by 1799, the only bit to finish was Standedge Tunnel. This 3¼ mile long excavation took a further 11 years of toil, the canal opening as a through route in 1811.

It is the shortest trans-Pennine route, but was restricted by being built to narrow gauge. Keels able to navigate to Huddersfield from the Calder and Hebble had to tranship onto “midlands” narrowboats for the onward journey.
Some short narrowboats were specifically built to fit both associated waterways, much the same dimensions as Seyella.

The canal was abandoned in 1944, although some limited local traffic continued into the ‘60s. Although derelict the higher sections remained intact, but at Huddersfield and Stalybridge urban development covered the old line.

Some innovative thinking (and a lot of money) led to the waterway being re-opened in 2001. We have The Huddersfield Canal Society to thank for the opportunity to cruise what is probably the most demanding canal in England.

We filled with diesel at the marina, and emptied and filled loo and water tanks this afternoon, so we can get a good start in the morning.

We’ve taken inspiration from Sue’s interesting and entertaining account of their trip (in both directions!) earlier this year. NB Cleddau is too long for the Broad Canal locks. Anyone else would have decided it wasn’t worth the effort, but not these two!

Locks 0, miles 0

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