Thursday, 28 June 2012

Escape from Todmorden

We have had an unexpected six days moored in Todmorden because of the floods and a boat stranded across the canal.  I’m pleased to say that we have now finally escaped and are moored up this evening in Sowerby Bridge all ready to pass the final locks of the Rochdale Canal and move on to the Calder and Hebble Navigation tomorrow.

British Waterways having checked the locks down to lock 12, we set off from Todmorden yesterday mooring up below lock 12 just short of Hebden Bridge and within sight of the stranded boat.  By midnight a huge 350 ton mobile crane had arrived on the main road about 30 yards away from the canal.  At midnight the road was closed to traffic and the fun started.  David was kind enough to wake us when the crane had finished building itself with extra counterweights and the real lift began.  At 2.15 am a sling was lowered from the crane, passed under the front part of the boat and it was very gently lifted from the weir where it was jammed.  At the distance that it was working the crane had a maximum lift of 9 tons so could not lift the whole boat, just the front end.  Having lifted its front, the boat was pulled forward both by the crane and by human muscle power to release the stern which was wedged on rocks on the other side of the canal.  Here are some photos of the rescue:

It seemed that the boat had suffered no damage as the engine started and the boat set off down the canal towards Hebden Bridge – tough machines these narrowboats!
The canal boat rescue featured on BBC Look North as there was a cameraman present.  Local residents and other boaters also turned out for the spectacle.

Following the late night we have been a bit groggy today but managed a few locks and miles down to Sowerby Bridge.  Here we did not know that we had to book the Tuel Lane Lock and so we are moored here until tomorrow morning.  The Tuel Lane lock replaces two previous locks and has a staggering 19 feet 8½ inches difference in level.  That and two following locks will take us down to the Calder and Hebble Navigation.
Moored at Sowerby Bridge

Down to the lock landing below Tuel Lane Lock

Last lock of the Rochdale Canal

The prominent tower in this photo is Wainhouse Tower built in 1875 as a chimney for a dye works but never used as such and converted into a viewing tower, open only on Bank Holidays.

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