Leeds and Liverpool Blockage


Thursday 18th May 2000 Photographs taken at Whittle Springs, just south of Johnson's Hillock locks.

The canal looks impassable to anything bigger than a canoe. There are BW DANGER DEEP MUD signs at each side of the blockage. Apparently a couple of hire boats from L&L Cruisers are trapped on the wrong side of it. I've no idea how long it might take to clear.

The bank on the eastern side of the canal has been lifted about four or five feet and the bed of the canal is now out of the water over a distance of twenty yards or so. I am told this is 'an inverted slippage', where something has been forced under the canal and lifted it.

I have been told that the cause was a land drain which runs down the hillside and which should discharge into the canal. Over the years it had become blocked with silt etc. at the bottom end so that in recent heavy rains water backed up until the pressure became so great it pushed all the blockage out with great force.

The surface of the raised canal bed is covered in a black deposit which looks like organic material which has been underground for some time.


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Beware!
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Wigan (from the South). The piles of soil in the background are on the site of a new leisure complex being built on the site of the maltings of the old Whittle Springs Brewery.

At its highest point the bank and bed of the canal has been lifted to about four feet above its original position where only the top retaining planks were above water.


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A closer look. The tripod affair on the left is, I believe, being used to investigate soil conditions. Some of the bank retaining planks have been removed - a digger has been working there.
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Johnson's Hillock locks (from the North) and looking over, beyond the trees, to Great Knowley. The rocks seen here were originally at and below water level.
Friday 26th May and British Waterways engineers are still at the blockage site near Whittle Springs and 'Caution Works in Progress' signs are in evidence alongside those warning of deep mud.

BW are making checks on the soil conditions and the strength of the embankment in order to find a permanent solution.

Enough of the blockage has been excavated on the tow-path side to allow the passage of narrow boats.


Wednesday 21st June the situation at Whittle Springs seems to be much the same as at the end of May.

The red 'Canal Closed' sign on bridge 79a (and, presumably, the one at the top of the Johnson's Hillock flight of locks) has been replaced by one reading 'Restriction to Navigation Please Proceed with Caution'.

The sign gives the phone number of the Burnley office for enquiries: 01282 456978.


Wednesday 12th July An update on the situation at Whittle Springs by way of three new photographs which show things rather more clearly than those above.
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Warning!
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Wigan (from the South).

At its highest point the bank and bed of the canal has been lifted to about four feet above its original position where only the top retaining planks were above water.

The channel which has been excavated on the tow-path side can be seen on the left.


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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Johnson's Hillock locks (from the North). The rocks seen on the left were originally at and below water level.

The channel which has been excavated on the tow-path side can be seen on the right with bridge 79a in the distance.


Tuesday 22nd August An update on the situation at Whittle Springs. Nothing much has changed.
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View from the south at the end of August showing a good growth of weeds.
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View from the north.
Sunday 24th September 2000 An update on the situation at Whittle Springs. At last some activity to be seen - steel sheet piles have been put in the bank and some of the blockage has been excavated.
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Wigan (from the South).
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Johnson's Hillock locks (from the North).
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Looking North from bridge 79a, over the blockage, towards Johnsons Hillock locks.

The channel which has been excavated on the tow-path side can be seen on the left and the digger, which has been working recently, on the right partially hidden behind the tree.


Monday 16th October 2000 The final update on the situation at Whittle Springs as the canal appears to have been restored to full navigation although the warning sign on bridge 79a is still in place. Landscaping work on the site of the leisure complex is still going on.
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Wigan (from the South).
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View from the tow-path as seen when approaching from Johnson's Hillock locks (from the North).

Send questions and comments to RLT@aaug.net

Last Revised: Mon 16th October 2000

Copyright © 2000 by John Clegg


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