Ribble Ripples
Volume 5 No.6 ................................... June 1999
[Impression of the typical profile of the Link.]
This issue's cover picture is an artist's impression of a typical profile across the Navigation produced from the latest information which was available at the time.

John Clegg, 25 The Farthings, Astley Village, CHORLEY PR7 1TP
Tel: 01257 271198
e-mail: RLT@aaug.net



Chairman's Report

Membership Secretary's Report 1998/9

Info Bits

1999 Cruise Boats


You may have been wondering why this issue is rather late in arriving. One reason is that both Cliff and I have been on holiday, but the main one is that we didn't want to repeat yet again "We're nearly there, but not quite!" but...

We have had a number of requests for an updated map of the proposed route of the Link and one is printed on the centre pages of this issue. This year boat owners applying to join the Ribble Link Cruise were asked to supply any interesting or historical information about their boat. Three replies we have received are included in this issue - look out for the boats in September.

I have had a number of reports from Internet users that they have not been able to access the Trust's web pages. As far as I am aware there should be no problem provided that the url (uniform resource locator) is typed in exactly as is shown at the bottom of page two. I try this from every computer which is connected to the Internet that I come across and it always works. The site is now a member of the UK Waterways Net Ring and the number of visits has shown a marked increase to an average of about twenty a day.

John Clegg


Chairman's Report

As the song says "We're almost there" I can almost hear some of you say "About time" but due to most of the landfill operators having projects of their own to support, we have been unable to find any of them to plug the gaps in our funding. We have therefore had to make cut backs within the scheme and are asking the Millennium Commission to accept the maintenance budget as being part of our capital. The outcome of this will be known by mid July. We are aware that further landfill funds could become available over the next few years but as we cannot guarantee it, we must proceed with what we have, and in the meantime we will keep looking and continue to raise our own funds. (The short fall is approximately £450,000). This has now put the start date of our project back a little, the latest program for work to commence is now September 1999, although the completion date is still planned to be before the end of 2000.

The information packs, which will enable the six short listed contractors to tender for the project, have now been posted and the successful contractor will be advised in the next few weeks. Further details will be announced as I receive them.

The provisional plans to have a grand opening in mid 2000, due to take place at Haslam Park, have been put on hold for the time being but once again further details will be announced once the contractor has had time to produce a full program of works.

Thanks once again to all those who have sent in their pledges and donations and particularly for allowing them to go via Lancashire County Council who will process them through a Landfill operator. (One way or another) Please don't worry if it takes a while to cash your cheques all is in hand. Once again my call goes out to anyone who would like to donate or would like to help, please contact any committee member or myself. If you would like to take up life membership, with your donation going via LCC and a Landfill operator, please contact our membership secretary Chris Gulley.

Finally I would like to record my thanks to Dave Morrison (Lynbrook Reprographic) and Keith Morrison (Lynprint) for their assistance in producing this magazine without their help it would be very difficult.

I hope that you are able to attend what will be the last 'Ribble Link Cruise' as the next one will be the 'Grand Opening Cruise'. Once again this year's cruise is being run in association with the Preston Maritime Festival, at the Marina on the 11th September, and once again there lots to see and do.

I hope to see you there.

Best regards

Cliff Fazackerley



Membership Secretary's Report 1998/9

Another year has passed and finally a date for the start of construction seems to nearing.

Membership numbers have fallen by a few and presently lies just below, rather than as previously just above, the 200. Disappointingly some 29 members still have yet to pay their 1998/9 subscriptions and this number includes some very longstanding members. I do hope that you've not lost interest just at the time when everything is starting to happen.

All is not gloom, however, and our Landfill Tax initiative has created 26 new Life Members and raised 20,000 for the Trust. We are still trying hard to raise the matching funding and I would ask everyone to consider becoming a Life Member at this exciting stage. In order to generate a 1000 from your 100 donation cheques must be made payable to "Lancashire County Council" and not the RLT. Also, any members wishing to make any donations to the Trust are also invited to make cheques payable to "Lancashire County Council" and we will raise 100 for every 10 donated, so even quite small donations can make a significant impact by this route.

The cruising season is upon us again and I hope to see as many of you as possible on the last cruise of the century. Finally anyone looking for me aboard "Chantelle" will be disappointed, she has gone to a better place (a life on the River Dart in Devon) and I have a replacement named "Polar Fox", slightly smaller, newer and faster.

Chris Gulley

e-mail: Chris_Gulley@hotmail.com

(This item was to have been in the last issue but was sent by e-mail and, unfortunately, disappeared into an electronic black hole somewhere on the Internet. Ed.)


Info Bits

Calder & Calder Canal?

At a recent BWB Wide Waterways Workshop, Ian Selby BWB NW, announced that his office has been considering two somewhat interesting projects.

The first is a new waterway joining the Rochdale Canal at Todmorden and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Burnley. It would be about 15km long, with its own summit level. He said the idea had arisen because it was felt that the complete Rochdale and Leeds & Liverpool ring would take too long to navigate for the vacation time available for many possible users, and the new link would provide smaller rings. The idea appears to be in an early stage at the moment as, for example, there are no proposals for water supply.

The second is to increase the gauge width of the Trent & Mersey. The width for Burton to Middlewich traffic would be 2.75m. This would be achieved by widening one of each of the paired Cheshire locks, and all the locks from Stoke to Burton. Ian said that, now the towpath has been removed from Harecastle tunnel, it would actually be possible to get a boat 3.65m wide through it. The Middlewich branch would also be widened, to recognise that it links wide waterways. It seems likely that the locks on the branch, and the narrow locks, would be widened to 4.3m, i.e. GU size, so they would accept two narrow boats side by side.

These projects seemed to be news to all the other BWB people at the meeting, as well as to the user representatives. Ian said nothing about how the projects would be consulted upon or funded, or what their status is with respect to BWB Watford, but his presentation gave the impression that a fair bit of thought has gone into them.

Lancaster Canal Southern Reaches?

A master-plan for a massive new canal and cycling development to transform leisure, tourism and transport in Bolton in the new millennium has been drawn up by a canal expert. Bolton Council is being urged to take aboard the ambitious plans for a new canal route and towpath cycle-way linking existing waterways south of Bolton with the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

If the funding could be attracted to build it a new green corridor would run from Moses Gate, create a new canal terminus at Church Wharf near Bolton Parish Church and continue along the course of the Croal through the town centre and Queen's Park towards Wigan.

The author of the report claims the project would create at least 280 new jobs, revitalise the economy, boost tourism and attract thousands of extra visitors to Bolton. In addition to bringing canal users into Bolton the report author Steven Parker, of Bolton, believes the towpath will provide the perfect environment for cyclists and walkers to travel into and through Bolton, completely avoiding roads and traffic.

Mr Parker was the founder of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society and its members have already proved what can be done "on a shoestring" by opening up long stretches of the redundant canal to navigation. The main aims of his project include constructing a new Damside Aqueduct at Darcy Lever, restoring the existing canal from Nob Bridge, Little Lever to Burden Viaduct to a navigable standard and extending navigation into the town centre.

He also wants investigations to be carried out into making the River Croal navigable through Bolton town centre, into Queen's Park and ultimately extending the navigation to join the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Wigan.


1999 Cruise Boats

Julie Anne

Registered Historic Boat
Built:- Taylors of Chester 1960ish
Construction:- Carvel, sea battened. Mahogany on oak. Originally painted yellow
Engine:- 12hp single diesel Yanmar
Prop. 13 x 17
Original engine Stuart Turner

Built as a 'one off' for a Greek lady and moored at Chester. Originally named Lady Beatrice II but this was changed along with the engine after a fire in the mid 'sixties. Lady Beatrice the first was wrecked in the late 'fifties on Loch Ness. (Monster hunting!)

The iron-work on the roof was originally twice as thick and was used for giving rides to handicapped children. It was cut down to allow passage through Salterford tunnel.

Cruised extensively by us:- Ripon, Sheffield, Huddersfield, River Derwent, River Mersey, Weaver, Manchester Ship Canal, River Dee, River Douglas, River Ribble, Sowerby Bridge, Goole.

Dave Leach
Trust Member


Spitfire, originally a BCN tug built in 1940 by Harris Brothers at Bumblehole near Netherton, is 46' long, 6' 9" beam with a working draught of 3' 3". Built of riveted iron round bilge construction she doubled up as an ice-breaker when required.

Many of Harris's boats built at the beginning of the war had names connected with the war: Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, early Bird etc., and it has been suggested that there could have been two Spitfires.

Spitfire worked on the BCN until about 1960. In 1961 she was converted to private pleasure craft by Les Allen of Oldbury. She was purchased by the present owners in 1969 and re-engined with a 1961 Fordson Major tractor engine.

In 1972 she was converted to a 40 seater passenger vessel with Department of Trade Certificate and plied on the Chesterfield Canal, Fossdyke and Witham Navigations and the River Trent until 1984. She was then converted, by the same owners, back to private pleasure and now cruises extensively on the canal and river system in the U.K.

Last year, 1998, the Fordson Major tractor engine gave up the ghost and Spitfire is now powered by a four cylinder Perkins that started life in a fork lift truck.

Alf and Sheila Bailey


This narrowboat is named after the star constellation. (lepus is Latin for hare)

Lepus is a Small Northwich Star Class butty built in 1935 by W J Yarwood & Sons of Northwich for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company. The boat was originally paired with the motor Lacerta and used to carry general cargo. In 1947 the craft was sold to the Manchester Ship Canal Company and used as a maintenance vessel.

The boat was shortened to 57' and converted to a motor in 1985 by the respected BCN boat builder Dave Harris. She is under cloths for 14' at the bow. The engine is a National 2DM dating from 1935 and originally installed in the motor Callisto.

Lepus is included on the National Register of Historic Vessels of the United Kingdom.

Robin & Linda Simpson
Trust Members


Page design by John Clegg.
Copyright © 1998-9 John Clegg, Cliff Fazackerley and the Ribble Link Trust Ltd.

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