The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal


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Updated 1st June 2003


It is now over a year since the restoration of the canal was announced by British Waterways. This is the news that many people have been working and waiting for. The purpose of this web site has always been to provide information about the canal and the local history that supported the canal. So at a time when the restoration of the canal is almost upon us this section will focus on the lengths of the canal that are considered stoppages in the waterway and will follow the progress over the next three years to completion of the project.

Still no news about the latest planning application for the SnoWorld site.

Recently visitors to the canal will have seen the signs of a £250,000 site investigation survey on which the future of the canal will be determined. It is believed that the original target dates of a start before the end of 2003 with completion by 2006 is still a reality.

One of the many boreholes scattered along the length of the canal

Preliminary exploration to determine how much of Prestolee Locks are left.

Unfortunately very little other work has been carried out on the canal which means that in some areas the tow path has become overgrown and difficult to walk.

Over the years many groups have attempted to do their "bit" to clear sections of water or maintain the towing path. With little or no encouragement from British Waterways in the past, it is hoped that this latest talk of restoration will produce some sustainable tangible results rather than past attempts that have provided short term benefits.

Conceived and designed as a narrow canal yet built as a broad canal the waterway with its close proximity in many places to the river will always, as history has recorded, be vulnerable to collapsing into the river below.

To liken restoration of the MBB canal to that of the Rochdale or Huddersfield canals is a simplification that fails to take account of the extent that the canal has been bastardised. The existing line of the canal is now the home for sewer pipes, sludge mains, overhead power lines, sub stations, industrial buildings. Major businesses have developed on the line of the canal. Relocation and measures necessary to prevent flooding from a breach together with service diversions will not be cheap. A major concern must also be the fragmentation of ownership with British Waterways having control of less than 50% of the existing route length. Until the other sections are acquired it is difficult to see how a coherent restoration plan can be evolved. Three years may be an ambitious target for the huge task of restoring this "gem" of a canal.

For Further information contact Mick Nightingale or Marcus Chaloner 0161 819 5847