Ribble Ripples
Volume 5 No.8 .................................. December 1999
[Blackpool Road bridge]
The cover picture is of Blackpool Road bridge at a 10.1m high tide after a period of heavy rain.
The clearance below the bridge is approximately 750mm.

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



Chairman's Report

Trees Along the Cut


Once again it seems Ripples is to be late because once again we have been holding back in the hope of including the news for which we are all waiting.

Hopefully things will go forward very quickly, once construction starts - if events on the Huddersfield restoration through Stalybridge are anything to go by. If you are on the 'net keep an eye on http://penninewaterways.co.uk/

In future it should be much easier to put the magazine together as Cliff is now connected to the Internet and we can send documents more quickly than posting floppy discs.

In fact anyone can contribute to the magazine by e-mail to me at RLT@aaug.net as well as on floppy disc or on paper - preferably typewritten so I can scan them into the computer.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and all the best for the year 2000.

John Clegg


Chairman's Report

Merry Christmas and I trust a Happy New Millennium.

I have held up this issue of the Ripples in the hope that I could give you more positive news but unfortunately this was not to be. I have to report that there is, yet again, just one more piece of the jig-saw required and then off we go.

Almost everything is in place - the land, Environmental Agency consent, planning permission and the contractor - all that is now required, is clarification of who is responsible for carrying the risk, should we encounter any problems, and then it's all systems go. Lancashire County Council and British Waterways are in discussion regarding this matter and the outcome should be known shortly.

The main contractor, Gleesons, are ready to sign a contract and are planning on starting next month, the site cabins will go up and consents will be applied for before the major works start. Their program is to start all the main works from April and carry on throughout the summer. All the main items are to be completed by the end of September 2000 with landscaping etc. running on to the end of the year and possibly into Spring 2001.

The committee is considering holding a Preston Millennium Boat Rally in July 2000. The event to be staged in Haslam Park adjacent to the Lancaster Canal. Anyone wishing to attend from the main system will have the opportunity of having their boats lifted over and cruising the Lancaster or, if they choose to stay in the dock, transport will be arranged to transfer the occupants to the Park.

We are considering arranging trips down to the construction site to view the progress being made. The whole event is at the very early stages of planning and more information will be available by the time the next Ripples is issued.

On the 6th of December our AGM was once again held at the Ribble Link Centre, situated in Preston boat-yard, which is alongside the outer basin on Lockside Road. After the main business of the evening was completed Steve Rogers and Brian Holden, from the Babtie Group, gave an update on the progress of 'The Link'.

Once again I would like to thank all those who have donated their time to the Trust over the last year and for all the hard work that has been put in to achieving 'The Link'.

And finally best wishes to you all for Christmas and the new Millennium.

Best regards

Cliff Fazackerley



Trees Along the Cut

Geoff, the welder, heard on the tow-path telegraph about my uplifting experience with a tree and keeps asking for details, so here are snippets concerning that, and a few other trees.

I was starting a boat hire business and my first boat was on hire doing the Cheshire ring. The hirers were having a miserable time, mainly due to continuous rain. I was hoping they were doing alright when the phone call came "Stopped by tree in canal, at Hyde Bank tunnel."

I phoned British Waterways, and passed the message on. I got my motor bike out and went to find the road leading down to the tunnel. A big tree, its roots loosened by the rain, had slipped down the sandstone cliff and was right across the canal. It was much too big for me to handle, however British Waterways turned up with a Land Rover, chain-saw, and ropes. A workman climbed on to the bow of the boat and, after tying the rope round the tree's branches, chopped them off, one at a time.

The gang pulled the smaller pieces ashore by hand, the bigger lumps were drawn up by the Land Rover. It being weekend, on extra pay, the lads were enthusiastic and the boat proved a good platform from which to work.

By this time the tow-path was covered with tree, and other boats were passing. Finally only the stump was left in the canal and a sawdust covered figure rose from a heap of sawdust in the bow. He was landed and the boat made its way to Marple locks and home.

I had my three children with me and we were cruising along the Macclesfield. The elder lad, then about thirteen, was steering and I was in the cabin preparing a meal. Like most lads he used to jump up to get hold of low tree branches and hold on till they broke, or he was in danger of being pulled overboard.

This time there was a yell followed by a commotion, a crash, and he charged into the cabin.

"There's a rat in the boat." he shouted, its come out of the tree.

I stopped what I was doing and gingerly opened the door that had slammed shut behind him. There was no rat, but in the middle of the cockpit floor was a birds nest and a tiny bird, scared half to death. I put the bird back in the nest and cleared up the mess. My mother had successfully reared a parrot some years previously, so we set about insulating its nest with toilet paper, and every time it opened its mouth to chirp, we dropped a blob of milk in. It survived the ordeal and we took it to an animal sanctuary when we got home to Stockport.

Several years later I was on my own, going up to New Mills, on the Peak Forest. I came round a corner and was confronted by a large dead tree in the canal. I thought I could push it out of the way and ran the boat into the top branches but they just snapped off. I backed the boat off then ran forward again and this time big branches were breaking off. I did the same again and got past which gave me the idea of using the boat as a battering ram.

A while later I was on the Macclesfield and at the end of High Lane cutting came upon a silt boat and tug tied end to end. They were floating loose and were diagonally across the canal with a combined length of nearly ninety feet. A boat had come in the other direction and was trying to get past the end - it couldn't. I shouted that I would pull the drifting boats backwards, to line up with the tow-path, giving us room to get past.

I slipped a rope over the tug's bollard, went into reverse, and drew the British Waterways boats towards the tow-path. Now with plenty of space I expected the boat to come on but it didn't move. I was getting impatient waiting, with a couple of boats roped to my bow, and shouted.

"We can't go." the cry came back "We're stuck on tree roots."

In trying to get past, they had gone too close to the side, and got hooked by a tree. It took a lot of pushing and shoving to move the boat sideways, so that it finally slid off.

When I was on my way home from a trip and got to Oaks Grove, near Fools Nook, on the Macclesfield I came round a bend, and started passing moored boats.

"The canal is blocked, there is a tree across it." I was told.

Having fought tides, weather and locks, I was in no mood to let a tree stop me. I didn't realise that it was so large, it stretched across the canal and tow-path. People had already been breaking top branches off so they could get past on the tow-path. I aimed the boat at the smaller branches near the path, and revved up. Everyone was clear so it didn't matter whether I pushed the tree out of the way or just broke enough branches to get through.

I had reached a fair speed by the time I struck and I could hear the bow smashing through the wood then, without losing speed, the front of the boat starting rising. With no more sound of timber breaking the boat was sliding up on the tree. The front dropped a little as the stern came up with the propeller nearly out of water. I slowed the engine waiting for the boat to crush the tree - it didn't - and I was left mainly out of water. I stopped the engine as people started coming along the path to take photos of the tree climbing boat.

I pretended that it was all in a day's boating but wondered what British Waterways would say when they came. A British Waterways boat came round the bend and fortunately for me it was Alan Kick with a work boat and crew. Whatever their thoughts they didn't say much but I bet they had a good laugh afterwards. Being local I knew a number of people there and had to put up with cracks like, "Are you surf boarding?" "Do you need a licence for doing that?" "What a tree-mendous achievement" and "Are you going to paint it whilst its out of water?"

British Waterways put a rope around one of my cleats, and tried towing but the boat stayed put. Then with a long, strong rope they took a run at it, with the work boat. The jerk bent the cleat and my boat shot backwards into clear water.

With me out of the way they approached the tree and started the job of chopping the branches and dumping them in their work boat. By this time two Land Rovers had come along the tow-path and chain-saws were hacking in all directions. I kept a low profile, but everyone was pulling branches out of the water. I was told that British Waterways had done a survey in that area of trees which were likely to fall into the canal, but this wasn't one of them - surprise, surprise. It took several hours to clear the channel, and days to remove the debris. Finally we all continued on our various journeys - mine back home.

That then is the story of the day that the boat and I climbed a tree together.

I. Bottrill

N.B. Eye Bee


Page design by John Clegg.
Copyright © 1999 John Clegg, Cliff Fazackerley and the Ribble Link Trust Ltd.

Back to previous page.
Back to the Contents page.