Anderton Boat Lift Awarded National Lottery Heritage Funding

The Canal & River Trust has been awarded a £574,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the development of a major repair and refurbishment project and extensive community engagement plan for the Anderton Boat Lift, near Northwich. The Scheduled Historic Monument, which each year carries around 3,000 boats between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the River Weaver Navigation, needs a major upgrade to keep it operational. The whole iron structure requires blast cleaning, repairing and re-painting, the timber control cabin replacing, and IT operating system updating.

Daniel Greenhalgh, Canal & River Trust North West director, said: “We are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for allowing us to take a first vital step in securing the future of this unique boat lift, one of the seven wonders of the waterways. Since the Anderton Boat Lift reopened as a major visitor attraction in 2002, it has become a firm favourite on the tourist trail, as well as bringing a significant boost for the local economy.”

This is the first stage in a major programme of restoration and includes plans to replace the large marquee, which is used to host school groups and events, with an alternative flexible building, including new toilets, plus updates to the visitor centre and grounds to improve the visitor experience, as well as the development of new learning, skills and outreach programmes. This will enable more visitors to enjoy the unique attraction and delve deeper into the site’s fascinating history.

“The essential repair and upgrade work is critically important to maintaining the lift as an operational structure. Constructed in 1875, it holds a unique place in waterway history as the world’s first commercially-operated boat lift and our mission is to ensure that it continues to delight and engage future generations.”

Over the next 14 months Canal & River Trust will be developing a comprehensive plan for ‘Engineering the Future’, with the intention of applying for a further grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the entire £13.4 million project. If the bid is successful, the plan will be to start an 18-month programme of works at the end of the 2024 boating season.

As a foretaste of the urgent necessity for major repair work, the lift has been closed since early August due to the failure of a safety mechanism in one of the lift gates. An emergency £450,000 repair work package is now on course to be completed this winter to ensure Anderton Boat Lift reopens to boaters and the Trust’s Edwin Clark public trip boat in time for Easter 2023.

The work features two key projects. Two giant hydraulic ram cylinders, which each propel a caisson transporting boats up and down, are being given a much-needed overhaul. The large metal tank caissons will be detached from the rams and propped up about two metres above ground level to allow the 20-year-old cylinder seals to be replaced, the ceramic rams re-polished and re-set, and 12,000 litres of hydraulic oil to be changed.

Each of the lift’s ten sets of gates will also have two new ‘fall and arrest’ safety systems installed, which act like a giant seat belt in an emergency. Following the identification of the safety issue in the summer, new designs have been engineered, approved by Historic England and manufactured. Once the repairs have been carried out, the lift will have a short recommissioning period of about two to four weeks before it is once again available to carry boats.

The Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre will continue to welcome visitors throughout the winter at weekends – Saturdays and Sundays, 9.30am – 4.30pm. For more information, see the Canal & River Trust website: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/anderton-boat-lift-visitor-centre or call 01606 786777.

Canal & River Trust Awarded £1.6 Million

Hunts Locks on the Weaver Navigation, Cheshire – one of the Canal & River Trust sites receiving funding for essential maintenance.

The Canal & River Trust has been awarded a £1.6m grant through the Heritage Stimulus Fund. This forms part of a package of measures recently announced by UK Government – https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/news/the-trust-to-receive-over-gbp16m-from-the-government-heritage-stimulus-fund.

445 heritage organisations will share £10m+ from two funds in the Culture Recovery Fund (Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and Heritage Stimulus Fund) to restart vital repair and maintenance work on cherished heritage sites, and to keep attractions open and support those working in the sector. The funds are administered by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, further details can be found here  –https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/445-heritage-organisations-boosted-by-culture-recovery-fund/.

For the Canal & River Trust, 15 projects are being funded focussing on the replacement of lock gates, and lock and bridge repairs. This covers sites on the Coventry Canal, Grand Union Canal, Hertford Union Canal, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and the Rivers Lee, Trent, and Weaver.