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Closures on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

11 October 2021

Culvert collapse blamed for breach  

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal breached at Rishton, near Blackburn, during the early hours of Monday 11th October, with early reports suggesting the problem was a collapsed culvert. 

The burst, near Bridge 109, developed from a significant leak detected over the weekend, and navigation had already been stopped near the affected area.

Dams have been installed either side of the breach and the Canal & River Trust said it was organising pumps to carry water over the affected area to maintain a feed to the lower section of the canal on the Blackburn side, which has no other way of being watered. Levels on the Burnley pound are around 1ft down, but CRT hopes it will slowly return to normal.

In the meantime, the canal is closed for the entire section from Barrowford Top Lock (near Foulridge) to the Wigan lock flight, a distance of some 45 miles. CRT said it hoped to estimate a repair program by Tuesday 18th October. 

Two boats caught close to the breach in the drained channel were Gary Bevan's Perfect Harmony and Glen Willis's Sacre Bleu. Both Gary and Glen praised the quick response of CRT's engineering teams over the weekend as they responded to the  initial reports of the leak and then fought to stem the collapse. But the two boats are now trapped on the canal bed at crazy angles and say they are still awaiting contact from CRT to support them in their plight. 

The news comes in the wake of the unscheduled stoppage of Eshton Lock at Gargrave, which CRT warns could also be closed all winter.  

Rishton breach 12.10.2021 (c) Colin Wareing.JPG
Early reports suggested an old culvert under the canal collapsed. Photo: Colin Wareing. 
Stranded boats Rishton 12.10.2021 (c) Colin Wareing.JPG
Two stranded boats near the site of the breach. CRT said it hoped they could be refloated early, instead of being stranded for the duration of the repair. Photo: Colin Wareing. 


L&L Bridge 109a railway 1624.jpg
The Leeds & Liverpool at bridge 109a, close to the breach site. The railway bridge was rebuilt in 2020. 
L&L Canal at Rishton 1640.jpg
The breach site near Rishton in 2020. 


Lock problem at Gargrave

Increasing problems with a lock on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Gargrave has led to the Canal & River Trust announcing an early stoppage, warning that it could possibly be for several months.

The trust said that Eshton Road Lock (No 31) has developed a depression on the towpath side quadrant and deterioration to the lock wall nearby. 

A number of boaters were allowed to make assisted passages until 11th October, whereupon the lock was closed for safety reasons. It will now be drained and inspected to reveal the full scale of the problem. 

The trust has also warned that boats moored on the 3 miles between Gargrave and Bank Newton flights may also have to move away if it is decided that further repairs are required in the area. 

Eshton Road Lock.jpg
Eshton Road Lock – possibly closed all winter in an unscheduled stoppage, warns CRT. 

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