Leek Branch re-opened

After £500,000 of investment and almost eight months of investigations, plans and repairs, British Waterways has announced that the Caldon Canal is now open following a breach in November.

The breach resulted in the collapse of a 15m length of canal embankment and damage to the canal bed and it’s clay lining. As a consequence approximately 21 million gallons of water leaked across agricultural land and into the River Churnet.

Following the breach temporary dams were put in place at Leek Tunnel closing access to the three-quarters-of-a-mile length of canal between the tunnel and the canal terminus. Fencing was also put in place to prevent towpath users accessing the breach site. Now the dams and fencing have been removed enabling people to enjoy the full length of the canal once more.

After a period of extensive investigations the repair works commenced in early March. The embankment has been repaired with a new clay and earth dam that has keyed in to the existing canal bank. The clay lining of the canal has also been reinstated to ensure the canal remains watertight and a number of sections of embankment have been reinforced to reduce the risk of future leakages.

The investigations carried out by British Waterways engineers following the breach indicated that it may have been due to an historic weakness related to the installation of a culvert and works have taken place to address this by relining with a new length of culvert to maintain land drainage.

The works were completed in late June and, following a period of testing to ensure that the repairs were watertight, the canal was reopened on the evening of 5th July.

Darren Green, waterway manager for British Waterways said; “We’re very pleased that the repairs are complete and that we can reopen the canal. Our boating customers and the local community have shown great patience and we’re delighted that they can now enjoy the remaining summer months on the canal.”

(BW press release: 6th July 2010)