Formation and Purpose
The idea for a modern Link came from John Whittaker, a member of the Lancaster Canal Boat Club, who took the it to the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs. They initiated the pioneering cruise of 1982 and they have continued to urge anyone who would listen to them to join our cause. In 1981 a survey was undertaken into the feasibility of utilising the Savick Brook to connect the Lancaster Canal to the River Ribble and thence by the River Douglas into the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
In October 1984 the Ribble Link Trust Ltd., a voluntary organisation, was formed to campaign for the linking of the Lancaster Canal to the main network not, as originally envisaged by Rennie, using an aqueduct but by canalising the Savick and Sharoe Brooks. These streams pass under the canal into Haslam Park where the Sharoe joins the Savick which then meanders westwards, for about four miles, through Ashton and Lea to meet the River Ribble one and a half miles downstream from the Preston Riversway Complex.
In 1993 the Trust widened its aims to enable it to consider other ways of joining the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the waterways system. However, the Savick Brook route always remained the prime objective.
The Aims of the Trust
The Link in Brief
This project is not a canal restoration scheme but the building of the first totally new navigation of its type this century which will allow craft to sail down the Ribble, up the River Douglas to the tidal lock at Tarleton and into the Rufford arm of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
This link will also complement a major project started several years ago by Preston Borough Council, that is, the redevelopment of the former Preston dock known as 'Preston Riversway' which was funded by a £13 million government grant. The purpose of the scheme was to create a water based facility incorporating a marina, which at the present time is grossly under utilised.
The completion of this link will attract boats from all over England, many of which will visit the Riversway facility before making their way onto the Lancaster Canal. This in turn will boost the economy of the entire area, increase trade and provide more employment.
The whole length of the Lancaster Canal will also benefit from the scheme particularly areas such as Garstang, Lancaster and Carnforth where increased traffic will, in turn, mean increased trade.
Preston is situated at the heart of the motorway and railway networks and boasts the first section of motorway to be built in England. When the Millennium Ribble Link is completed Preston will also, at last, be part of the inland waterway network.
The Trust has gained the support of many public and voluntary bodies with Preston Borough Council, Lancashire County Council and British Waterways being actively involved in promoting the scheme.
The scheme is included in Lancashire County structure plan and also in the Preston Borough local plan and has the support of a wide variety of different groups.
Preston Borough Council Planning Department has granted detailed planning permission, subject to a number of conditions, for the £5.4M scheme.
Money from a government initiative for environmental improvement works, supplemented by many other donations has enabled matching funding, to the Millennium Commission's grant of £2.7M from the National Lottery fund, to be raised.
Professional services to design, build and maintain the works have been engaged and presently the Link is under construction with completion of the major works due before the end of this year.
The 'missing link' between the Lancaster Canal and the rest of the system is being put in place.
Send questions and comments to RLT@aaug.net
Last Revised: Mon 22nd October 2001
Copyright © 1997-2001 by John Clegg, Cliff Fazackerley and the Ribble Link Trust Ltd.