It was early yesterday morning when I arrived in Wigan by train. I was on the way to help Geoff and Mags on Seyella come down the Wigan Flight.
I paused to say hello to Jan on Waiouru as I walked past on the way to the top of the Wigan Flight.
Meg spotted my arrival at the top of the flight as she waited patiently outside Seyella.
It was a lovely day once the sun had come out and Wigan Top Lock looked very welcoming.
There were no boats within the flight so I lifted one top paddle on the locks near the top of the flight so they would be full by the time we came down. Geoff went ahead to open the gate and see the boat in safely as Mags steered Seyella and I shut the paddles and gates behind.
Geoff and Mags are used to working together and there was no need to hold the boat on the centre rope as the locks are gentle when emptying.
Jan walked up from Waiouru and met us part way down the flight, providing another pair of hands.
Some of the locks have winding hear to help close the gates.
Jan seems to be having fun – it’s not often that happens on the heavy locks of the Wigan Flight.
Jan left us at the bottom lock of the main flight and I stayed on board to help with the two Poolstock Locks.
I left Meg, Geoff and Mags looking very happy at Poolstock Bottom Lock. It took four and a half hours from top to bottom, including a stop for a brew half way down with four of us working well together – it would have taken Geoff and Mags much longer on their own. The 21 locks in the main Wigan Flight, plus two at Poolstock, are hard work, with some of them being very hard work.
I paused to help Jan with a minor problem as I walked back to the station and caught the train home.
Tom & Jan on Waiouru have cruised through the re-opened canal today and been kind enough let me have photos of the finished work, with permission to publish them.
I wonder what the mooring bollards are for. Perhaps they will be handy for workboats when maintenance is being carried out.
The new stop gates have overlapping beams at different heights, although there is very little clearance between them. It will take very little warping with age before they start touching each other and I wonder how long it will be before adjustments are required.
There are grooves for stop planks to be inserted so work can be carried out on the gates. Hopefully that won’t be needed too often.
The Bridgewater Canal has been closed since 2nd November 2015, just to the west of Worsley, for the installation of stop gates.
Large warning signs at each end, like this one at Leigh, handily positioned on the stop planks for a photo opportunity, tell boaters it will be closed until 29th February 2016.
Cycling along the Leigh Branches of the Bridgewater and Leeds & Liverpool Canals yesterday to check the data for my maps is up to date, I passed the work site as they were nearing completion.
The stop gates have been added at the Leigh End of the narrows for a former lift bridge which explains the old stonework in the photo.
Peering under the arm of the digger we can see one pair of stop gates closed and pointing towards us, with another pair behind them in the open position and pointing in the opposite direction. With long lengths of lock free canals it’s important to be able to stem the water flow in either direction in the event of a breach.
The side on view show the gate beams at different heights so they can be opened and closed independently. These pairs of gates follow the convention of pointing away from each other. The water between them can be pumped out during tests every few years to check the gates successfully hold back the water.
They were clearing up the site as I passed and starting to take down the safety fencing. They said they would breach the dams in the next day or two to check it all worked. If they do that with the gates closed they can test for leaks into the central section which should remain dry, at least until filled by the inevitable small leaks, but that might cause another problem.
I could see no sign of any paddle gear and, having been separated for months the two ends of the canal are unlikely to be at exactly the same level. When the leaks have filled the central section then one set of gates can be opened but any difference in water levels will still hold the second pair shut.
There could be a long wait until the levels in the two long pounds can be equalised if they test the gates this way. Removing the dams with the stop gates open, and testing by pumping might be a better solution.
Boaters who have been waiting for passage, like Tom and Jan on Waiouru, should find the canal open next week as planned.
I was back at Rose Narrowboats again yesterday, to see even more progress with repainting our narrowboat.
The bows, which looked shiny in my last post because the undercoat was wet have been sanded down. Now its the red paint looking good with the first coat of gloss complete.
The whole of the front had been sanded down and will probably have the first coat of gloss on by the time I publish this.
Paul, the painter, was working his way along the left hand side of the boat, painting inside the marked out panels.
A lovely picture of Paul’s reflection in the red name pane. He’s working his way around the outside of the panels with the blue paint now.
Paul had already finished the first (of three) top coats on the right hand side. The reflections are gradually making it harder to photograph the boat as they fool the camera. The red name panels in the last two photo really are the same colour, but the light and reflections make them look very different.
Paul has warned me that the boat will look different outside.