Millennium Mark A MILLENNIUM PROJECT Supported by funds from the National Lottery
The Ribble Link Trust Ltd.
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Index
Contents

Introduction
Formation
Proposals
Route
Environment
Heritage
Benefits
Events
Works
Joining
Magazine
Facts
Photographs
Links

Latest News

Sun 9th November 2003

The Annual General Meeting of the Trust will be held at County Hall, Fishergate, Preston on Tuesday 2nd December at 8:00pm.


Sat 29th March 2003

The Waterways Renaissance Awards 2002 took place on Wednesday 26th March at Madame Tussauds London.

The Millennium Ribble Link project was the winner in the Partnership category, demonstrating the best partnership between the public, private and community sectors.

The award was presented to the Ribble Link Chairman Cliff Fazackerley by the waterways minister the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP.

The Trust wishes to thank all the partners for all their assistance in achieving this award. We would also like to express our thanks to M J Gleeson for the hospitality and Virgin Trains for their generous sponsorship.


Fri 7th February 2003

All charges dropped on Ribble Link!

British Waterways have announced in their Craft Licence, updated Feb 2003, that all charges for the Ribble Link as well as those for structures such as the Anderton Boat Lift, the Falkirk Wheel, the Dee Locks and the the Standedge Tunnel no longer apply as the cost will now be absorbed into the licence fee.

Good news for all!


The Video Active production recording the construction of the Millennium Ribble Link is now available directly from VideoActive, Mill House Studios, Higher Wych, MALPAS, Cheshire SY14 7JR


Thu 14th November 2002

Cliff Fazackerley, the Chairman of The Ribble Link Trust, has asked me to pass on the sad news of the death of Ian Bottrill at his home.

Ian had an engineering background and, in the early sixties, built his first boat 'Karen' in the garden of his home. He was an adventurous boater - some would say too adventurous - and a long time supporter of the Ribble Link from the time of the first Campaign Cruise to Preston Dock in 1982.

Ian had suffered a heart attack in March 1996 during the Douglas Valley Cruising Club Rally. Although he made a good recovery from that and resumed boating later that year his health had deteriorated recently.

Ian is to be cremated at 2pm on Tuesday 19th November at Stockport Crematorium.

I wish to pass on to his family the deepest sympathy of all the members of the Trust.


The 2002 Annual General Meeting of the Trust was held in the Main Committee Room of County Hall in Preston on 11th November.

Trevor Green has advised us that his video Fred on Water will be completed within the next two weeks anyone wishing to order should telephone Trevor on 01565-889019


British Waterways Ribble Link Update 4th November 2002

Boat Movements

During its 3 month operation the Link saw 124 boats make 170 safe passages. Of these, 25% are staying less than 2 weeks, 20% are staying less than 1 month and 37% are staying on the Canal for more than 1 month. Conversely, 16% are staying off the canal more than 1 month. Of the boats travelled, I 7% are from the Lancaster Canal, 31% within the NW and 41% outside of the NW.

Interpretation on the Link

Ribble Link guide now printed (run of 20,000) and distributed to Tourist Information Centres in the region. Interpretation points under construction at the moment. There will be 4 points and are of stainless steel with anti graffiti coating. Text and pictures will be engraved on the top and sides of the structure, and it looks a little like a lecture podium. They are designed to answer the questions raised on the printed guide (used together). Working with the local schools to produce a poem about the link which will go around the outside of each, along with Braille. On each of the points there will also be a brass rubbing block. The curved sides of the structure will remain blank to reflect the colours of the environment. The 4 structures should be in place by spring.

Environment Agency

Working with the Environment Agency Fisheries and Recreation Officer, to promote recreation in the Preston area by launching a Youth Fishing club. One possibility is to use the Holding basin for fishing training days, and events. The basin is already well colonised from the canal.

Will possibly fund info boards about the fish passes.

Canoeing

Ribble Canoe Club are using the holding basin as a venue for canoe polo training and competitions. This will be through the winter and is not intended to conflict with operational issues.

Funding bids for lighting and goal posts will be supported.

There is the possibility of organised canoe slalom events along the link, though canoe access on the link will not be allowed in general. Ribble Club have offered to police the link from that point of view.

Education

There is scope for an open air classroom along the link, and environmental walks have been given. A youth project ran for a week in August, using the Trusts room near the site office, and we would be grateful if this room could be made available for future education and community use. Cottam Primary school will be visiting site in November to see the staircase locks.

Events

Contact has been made with the University regarding the use of the holding basin site for events. The issue of facilities in this area is of growing importance, and a funding bid will have to be made.


Sun 22nd September

This is expected to be the last major update of these pages now that the Link has been opened, however, I will update the Photographs pages with after photographs as appropriate.

Commissioning has continued since 12th July and more than 180 passages have been made through the Link which is fully booked into October.

The first boats travelled between Preston Riversway and the Link and it was over a week later that the first craft made the crossing between Tarleton and the Link.

The new waterway has been widely enjoyed by large numbers of people walking and cycling along it, enjoying the waterside environment and bringing the area to life. A leaflet A Day on the Millennium Ribble Link is available from British Waterways.

The Link is also providing a focus for organisations to arrange events, most recently a cycle ride as well as opportunities for groups such as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and young offenders through the SPLASH projects.

The Link was officially opened on Friday 20 September 2002 by the Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.


Sun 14th July

The Millennium Ribble Link was used for the first time during the Ribble Link Celebration Cruise 2002 and Construction Completion Ceremony. Ten boats successfully completed the trip down the Link from the Lancaster Canal to Preston Riversway on Friday and on Saturday another ten boats made the trip in the other direction despite being delayed by problems with the swing bridge at Riversway.

Eleven boats completed the trip from Riversway to the Link on Sunday after again being delayed by the swing bridge.

A full report of the weekend is now on the Events page.


Thu 11th July 2002

The historic breakthrough to the Lancaster Canal was made on Tuesday 2nd July, when I was away in Scotland, so I have no photographs at the moment. The construction work is not completely finished but boats will be able to use the Link on the 12th July as we had hoped.

The extension to the moorings at Tarleton has been completed.

The first in the series of four works in Thompson Dagnall's public art project for the Link was unveiled on Tuesday 9th July. Stood at the edge of lock 1 (the top lock of the staircase) it is a fifteen foot high figure, carved from a single tree trunk, staring down into the water.

A British Waterways work boat was taken down through the three-rise staircase on Wednesday 10th July to ensure everything was working properly in advance of the Ribble Link Celebration Cruise 2002 and Construction Completion Ceremony on 12th & 13th July. During the week boats from the main system have been gathering at Preston Riversway and those from the Lancaster Canal have moored adjacent to Haslam Park.

Fortunately the weather seems to have taken a turn for the better and we were under a mainly blue sky today.


Wed 19th June 2002

The locks are to be renumbered from one at the top of the three-rise staircase at the Lancaster Canal end to nine at the river lock. This follows the convention established on the Glasson Branch and, as the recently published Skippers Guide uses the new numbers, I will do the same from now on.
Lock 1 becomes Lock 9
Lock 2 becomes Lock 8
Lock 2a becomes Lock 7
Lock 3 becomes Lock 6
Lock 4 becomes Lock 5
Lock 5 becomes Lock 4
Lock 6 becomes Lock 3 )
Lock 7 becomes Lock 2 ) Three-rise staircase
Lock 8 becomes Lock 1 )

Construction is in its final stages along most sections of the Link and work is now in progress on the section from Blackpool Road bridge around the back of the Lea Gate Hotel to the British Nuclear Fuels Ltd pumping station. A heronry of five nests had held up the start of work in this area although the access road, Butterfly Walk, was cleared of vegetation by volunteers some time ago.

All of the derelict boats in the area around the boatyard have been removed at part of a tidying up operation. Reeds and other plant material which has been removed during this work will be replanted along the banks of the Link. There is also a possibility that a winding hole will be provided in this area.

At lock 9 (was 1) the rising sector gate is in position and has been opened and closed manually. Stop plank grooves have been cast in the concrete on both upstream and downstream ends of the gate chamber. The stop planks are both constructed as one piece units rather than the traditional set of individual planks. The electrical control systems have been installed and on 18th June they were being tested prior to the attachment of the connecting rod to the gate. When the engineers are satisfied with the installation and operation of the gate in dry conditions the piles which seal the ends of the chamber will be cut off level with the base. The top of the adjacent weir will be raised to its final level and the operation of the gate will then be tested in wet conditions.

Work has begun on the previously untouched section of the route between the previous limit of the new channel, past the BNFL pumping station to Blackpool Road bridge. A haul road has been laid from Blackpool Road long the west bank of the brook and a temporary access made onto the reed bed which will be cut back to ease the bend. Further upstream an excavator has been working to profile the east bank near the BNFL pumping station.

Two round piles have been driven adjacent to the eastern bank downstream of lock 8 (was 2) to locate a floating mooring pontoon. The lock, along with its fish pass and winding hole has now been completed. Another floating mooring pontoon will be installed upstream of the lock and the piles for two more are already in position just downstream of the farm access bridge.

The replacement farm access bridge has been completed and the deck of the old one has been removed although removal of the abutments and bank profiling remain to be done. The hawthorn hedges which were planted, in areas between here and Lea Road, in the spring are growing strongly - no doubt aided by the damp weather conditions.

Between lock 7 (was 2a) and its bywash outflow two excavators have been working together to dredge the channel to its correct depth. Lock 7 is now complete along with its weir and fish pass although the downstream moorings and landscaping on the eastern side have yet to be finished.

The foundations of the approach roads leading to the new golf course bridge have been laid and await a tarmac finish.

Lock 6 (was 3) has been completed apart from the fish pass.

At Lea Road the new concrete channel through Leyland Bridge has been completed and some of the fendering installed. The brook continues to be temporarily diverted through a large diameter pipe while concrete abutments are cast on each side of the bridge.

The main section of the suspended walk-way beneath the arch of the railway bridge was installed over the weekend 15th/16th June.

The permanent wooden post & rail site fencing and the landscaping work on the eastern side of the three-rise has been finished. Although concrete block pavers are being laid to provide good footholds under the balance beams of the lock gates of three-rise staircase, sections of concrete paving slabs set vertically in concrete are being used at the other locks.

Foundations are being prepared for the erection of the fifteen foot high figure 'Water' by Thompson Dagnall.

The upper basin has been filled with water by pumping from the Lancaster Canal and the leakage found to be minimal. The earliest landscaped areas are now showing green as the grass is growing well. The concrete piers of the junction bridge are being faced with red and blue Accrington brick.

The break-through to the Lancaster Canal is expected to be made on Friday 21st June.

The new moorings adjacent to bridge 17 on the Lancaster Canal and the University of Central Lancashire sports ground are almost finished - just needing recycled plastic fendering and the installation of steps up to the cafe in Cottam barn.


Tue 11th June 2002

As of 5th June the charge, proposed by the Waterways Trust, for using the Link will be £35 for one passage and £60 return. This, if confirmed, will be reviewed in early 2003 and annually thereafter.

The Official Opening will be on 20th September 2002 after a commissioning period from July 17th following on from the Ribble Link Celebration Cruise 2002 and Construction Completion Ceremony.

A new sanitary station with showers and toilets has been completed, by British Waterways, at Spark Bridge which is near Rufford Old Hall about two miles up the Rufford Branch. The extension to the moorings at Tarleton was due to be filled with hardcore on Monday 10th June and half of the derelict boats have been removed.

At lock 1 gate power connection work is in progress. The piles for the floating mooring pontoon upstream of the lock have been driven into place.

Work has begun on the final section of the route between the previous limit of the new channel, past the BNFL pumping station to Blackpool Road bridge. The excavator has been working from a temporary rock fill 'road' laid on the bed of the brook. This 'road' will be removed as the excavator works back digging out the bed to the final level.

One floating mooring pontoon is yet to be installed downstream of lock 2, which, along with its fish pass, has been completed. The winding hole has now been fully excavated. Another floating mooring pontoon will be installed upstream of the lock and two more just downstream of the farm access bridge.

The new farm access bridge has been completed but the old one has not yet been removed.

Lock 2A has now been completed but the fish pass has yet to be finished.

The electrical equipment for the mini pumping station at the golf club sewer siphon has been installed.

The tarmac surface of the golf cub access bridge was due to be laid on Monday 10th June.

Lock 3 has been completed but the fish pass has not yet been started.

From here to the top of the three-rise all the locks are finished. Landscaping, paths and permanent site fencing are in progress.

To avoid pedestrians having to walk alongside Tom Benson Way from the bottom of the three-rise to the turning basin a footbridge is to be installed across the brook from the tail of lock 6 to the basin.

Concrete blocks are being laid to provide good footholds under the balance beams at the three-rise locks. All the paths as far down as lock 3 will be surfaced with tarmac, below lock 3 they will be scalpings surfaced with crusher grit.

All the lock chambers will have three pairs of rope rods, equally spaced along the sides and also three pairs of wooden bollards.

The upper basin has been filled with water and the leakage found to be minimal. The landscaped areas have been seeded and the grass is already showing.

The new moorings adjacent to bridge 17 and the university sports ground are almost finished - just needing recycled plasic fendering and steps up to the cafe in Cottam barn.


Fri 24th May 2002

Lock 1 gate is now in position and has been raised and lowered manually. The power connection will have to be made before it can be operated mechanically.

The piling around to Blackpool Road bridge is almost complete.

Dredging work between Blackpool Road bridge and the BNFL pumping station is to be started shortly.

Lock 2 has been completed and water is running through. The winding hole has also been completed while the weir is due to be finished next week. Five floating pontoons have been ordered and are due to be delivered in four weeks time.

Lock 2A is finished and water will be running through on Monday or Tuesday. The weir and fish pass are due to be completed this week.

All services are now connected under the golf course bridge which awaits its road surface before the old bridge can be demolished.

Lock 3 is finished, its weir and fish pass are due to be completed shortly.

The concrete base at Lea Road bridge has been completed, the wing walls and fendering still have to be to be added.

Lock 4 has been completed along with its weir and fish pass. The pound has been flooded to the correct level.

The Savick Way bridge works are complete.

Lock 5 has been completed along with its weir and fish pass. This pound, which includes the turning basin at the bottom of the three-rise staircase, has also been flooded to the correct level.

Final finishing off work is going on at the three-rise staircase, all scaffolding is due to be removed this week.

The completed top basin will be filled using pumps and this was due to begin on Tuesday 28th May and go on for four days.


Tue 14th May 2002

The latest Safety Record is that there has been one accident - a broken leg - during the 144,626 man-hours spent so far in the construction of the Millennium Ribble Link.

Despite reports elsewhere the level of charge for using the Link has not yet been decided and consultations are still taking place.

A number of field drains along the channel are being raised so that they discharge above the operational water level.

Inside the coffer dam at lock 1 the steel-reinforced concrete sides have risen to full height on the eastern side and the western side should be completed shortly.

Bank piling continues at the bend immediately downstream of Blackpool Road bridge. Most of the piles are at approximately 4ft centres and will have recycled plastic fenders bolted across them. Where the embankment has been eroded the piles are being driven in a continuous line. Some problems have been encountered when piles have hit stone or concrete blocks in the bed of the brook. The pile-driving crane is working from a branch off the haul-road down to lock 1.

The original sewer pipe from the nearby British Nuclear Fuels Limited site has now been removed.

Lock 2 is now almost complete, the ladders and the footbridge have been installed and the concrete capping beams cast. However, the excavation of the winding-hole immediately upstream of the lock still has to be completed.

The guard rails of the replacement farm access bridge have been installed. Lock 2a is now almost complete, the footbridge has been installed, the concrete capping beams cast and the installation of the ladders nearly finished.

Work on diverting the sewer from the Ashton & Lea Golf Club into the bed of the navigation has been completed and the old sewer pipe has been removed.

At the golf course bridge the services have been diverted into ducts beneath the concrete of the new bridge.

At lock 3 the final set of gates have been installed along with the footbridge. The concrete capping beams have been cast but the installation of the ladders has not yet started.

Work is now in progress at Lea Road to complete the channel through Leyland Bridge. The brook has been temporarily diverted through a large diameter pipe and hydraulic rams are being used to ensure the stability of the bridge while the channel is excavated and a new concrete pad cast beneath it.

The footbridge, ladders and wooden mooring bollards have been installed at lock 4. The weir above lock 4 which, in common with the other non-tidal locks along the brook, incorporates a fish pass has been finished.

The inside bank of each of the tight bends, between lock 4 and Savick Way, have been cut back a further five metres to make the bends more easily navigable.

The new channel beneath Savick Way bridge is almost complete with just finishing work on the sloping sides to be done. The deepest channel is in the centre with shallower parts on either side protected by recycled plastic fenders. There will be no tow path beneath the bridge. The brook has been temporarily diverted through the large diameter pipe along the new channel while the work has been in progress.

The remedial work on the railway bridge has been completed and most of the scaffolding around it has been removed leaving just that which is required to install the suspended walk-way beneath the arch.

Finishing work continues on the three-rise staircase where the ladders are being installed and the last parts of the concrete capping beams are being cast. A concrete block wall remains across the tail of lock 6 to keep water out. Landscaping work continues and the first sections of the permanent wooden fencing have been erected.

Much work has gone on in and around the upper mooring basin and the junction with the Lancaster Canal in the last month. The concrete capping beam has been cast on the piles which protect the south-western bank of the basin. The sloping north-western side of the basin has been covered with interlocking hexagonal bank protection tiles made from recycled plastic material.

The soil which was left against the piles of the moorings on the south-eastern bank has now been removed by a small excavator. I had previously been told that it had been left in place to hold the piling vertical until the basin was in water but it was actually because the anchor piles had not been concreted in place and the large excavator could not get near enough without damaging the bank.

The final excavation work in the basin has been completed, going under the bridge as far as the Lancaster Canal towpath, but the break-through to the Lancaster Canal is not expected until mid-June. The basin will be filled by pumping water in from the main line rather than just removing the dam between it and the basin.

Moorings are being constructed on the Lancaster Canal towpath adjacent to the University of Central Lancashire sports ground. This was part of the agreement which allowed the three-rise staircase to be built on land owned by the university east of Tom Benson Way.


Mon 6th May 2002

The new moorings are now being constructed on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Tarleton.

Parts for the rising sector gate at lock 1 have been completed and are now on site.

The guard rails have now been erected on the raised edges of the reinforced concrete pad of the new golf course bridge.


Tue 16th April 2002

The steel-reinforced concrete sides of Lock 1 are rising at a steady rate. The curve to accommodate the gate has reached about half its final height. Bank piling work is in progress round the bend south of Blackpool Road bridge.

The BNFL sewer has been diverted into a siphon below the brook with a manhole on each bank. The siphon consists of two 225mm diameter pipes so that if one becomes blocked the flow will not be interrupted. The original pipe will be removed shortly.

The reinforced concrete edges and the roadway of the farm access bridge tube have been cast. Work to finish the piled moorings above and below Lock 2a is continuing. The gates and paddle gear have been installed and finishing work is going on. The concrete capping beam has to be cast, the ground paddles & their associated headgear and the footbridge have to be installed.

The landing stage below Lock 4 has been completed and gabions have been installed at the end of it with more bank protection beyond them. Bank protection has also been installed on the opposite side of the channel. The inside of each of the tight bends, between Lock 4 and Savick Way, are being cut back a further five metres to make the bends less severe. The brook has been diverted through a large pipe beneath Savick Way Bridge where the new, and lower, concrete base is being poured to give sufficient depth in the channel.

Bank piling work is going on in the by-wash channel of Lock 5 where there has been a lot of erosion. The weir above the lock which, in common with all the non-tidal locks in the brook, contains a fish ladder has been completed.

The footpaths around the turning basin have been surfaced with a coarse sand. All the gates in place at the three-rise staircase and stone rubble has been placed below the spillway outfall at the bottom. A temporary dam is in place across the tail of Lock 6 to keep water out of the lock chamber. At the upper mooring basin excavation is almost complete, the new footbridge is in place and the Lancaster Canal towpath has been re-opened. The remaining bank is expected to be removed in mid-June to allow water into the upper basin of the Link.


Thu 4th April 2002

Manufacture of the rising-sector gate for lock 1 is continuing off-site for delivery in the middle of April.

The reinforced concrete pad has been cast on the new golf course access bridge to carry the road surface.

Piling for the moorings above and below lock 3 are in place.

The recycled plastic landing stage below lock 4 has been completed and the gates have been painted.

Sand martins will soon return to the Savick Brook after over-wintering in Africa. Special banks have been created to replace those nesting sites lost during construction of the Link.

Plant sanctuaries have been set up to stockpile seedlings and saplings for planting along the Link when construction work finishes. Existing grass areas and reed beds along the water's edge will be enhanced. On every occasion water has been drained from a section of the brook for construction work fish have been rescued and moved to a safe stretch of water.

The hard-core of the path from the basin to the pedestrian crossing at Tom Benson Way and the mooring areas at the turning basin has been topped with coarse sand.

Finishing work continues on the three-rise staircase with the casting of the concrete capping beams, all the gates having been installed.

Work on the upper mooring basin and the junction with the Lancaster Canal is continuing. The bridge which will carry the tow-path over the new junction has been erected.

What else will be happening over the next few months?

  • As the weather improves final trims for earthworks and grass seeding
  • Completion of lock 1 gate
  • Completion of diversion of services that cross the navigation
  • Dredging of the channel between lock 1 and lock 2
  • Completion of lock gate fitting
  • Impounding of water to operational levels and commissioning
  • Completion of walkways and cycleways

A new web site for the project has been launched by British waterways at http://www.millenniumribblelink.co.uk

The site currently includes progress reports for the project and will be developed to hold details about how to book passage on the Link, skipper notes, tide times and other information about the Link as well as links to other web sites.


Tue 14th March 2002

Fred Dibnah's 'Building of Britain' didn't include anything at the three-rise flight in the canal programme. However, Sunday's Songs of Praise is from St Walburge's church in Preston and features Fred Dibnah so maybe the filming was for that programme!

Most of the recent activity has been in the area in and around the three-rise flight at the Lancaster Canal end of the Link.

At lock 1 assembly of the steel reinforcing mesh and wooden form-work for casting the curved base of the concrete housing for the rising-sector gate is almost complete.

The haul-road down to lock 1 now has a branch towards Blackpool Road bridge to enable work to go ahead on profiling the channel between lock 1 and the bridge.

The gates have been installed at lock 2 and the gear for the ground paddles at the head end of the lock lie on the lock sides awaiting installation. The recent drier and windy weather has eased the conditions here and it is now possible to walk on the ground rather than sinking into it.

On the original plans a replacement for the derelict first farm bridge, which crosses what has now become the by-wash of lock 2, was shown together with a bridge across the navigation. These have now been removed from the plans and that farm bridge will remain in its present state.

The gravel in-fill and foundation for the roadway over the new farm access bridge, further up-stream, is now in place. The reinforced concrete edge of the bridge tube has been cast on the down-stream side of the bridge and work is in progress to install the steel reinforcing mesh and wooden form-work for casting the upstream edge.

The temporary plant access bridge, between the farm access bridge and lock 2a, giving access to the northern bank has been removed. The consequent drop in water level has revealed deposits of sand on the bed of the channel which will have to be removed. Work to finish the concrete parts of lock 2a is continuing.

Work on diverting the Golf Club sewer into the bed of the navigation and building its associated mini pumping-station is well advanced and the reinforced concrete edges have been cast on both sides of the new golf course access bridge tube. A concrete slab will be cast over the gravel in-fill to carry the road surface over the bridge.

The permanent boundary along the sections which run through farmland west of Lea Road is being installed as a double line of wooden posts with rabbit-proof wire mesh and barbed wire with a double row of hawthorn hedging planted between them.

The recycled plastic landing stage below lock 4 has now almost been completed - the one above the lock was finished some time ago - and the balance beams of the head gates have been painted black and white. The gear for the ground paddles at the head of the lock lie on the lock sides awaiting installation.

The footbridge at lock 5 is now in place.

The stone weirs at the turning basin have been completed and the excavation has been carried on to the full depth. Stone has also been placed to break the flow of water into the basin from the three-rise spillway.

The line of the path from the basin to the pedestrian crossing at Tom Benson Way has been excavated and filled with a hard-core foundation.

Finishing work continues on the three-rise staircase where all the reinforced concrete gate mountings have been completed and the gates of lock 8 installed. The gates for lock 7 have been delivered and those for lock 6 are due shortly. The three footbridges are in place across the tail ends of locks 6, 7 and 8.

Work has been completed on the overflow weirs and spillway alongside the eastern side of locks 6 and 7. Excess water will flow over the weir on the eastern side of lock 7 into the spillway which then drops through three pre-cast concrete pipes, encased in concrete, into the spillway alongside lock 6 and over a waterfall onto the stone in the turning basin. Steel grilles will be installed over the top and bottom ends of the pipes.

There is neither weir nor spillway at lock 8 as the level above that lock will be maintained by the weirs on the Lancaster Canal.

Work on the upper mooring basin and the junction with the Lancaster Canal is continuing. The basin has been excavated and the bank piling along the south-eastern side of the basin has been completed. The earth which remains against the bank has been left in place to hold the piling vertical until the basin is in water. It will then be removed as the water pressure will take over and do the same work.

Piling is in progress to provide protection to the south-western bank where the stern of a boat leaving lock 8 will swing around under power.

Bank piling has been completed across the tow-path of the Lancaster Canal and the concrete pillars for the bridge which will carry the tow-path over the new junction are being erected.


Tue 12th February 2002

The bottom of lock 1 has now been concreted.

The gate fittings are being installed at lock 2 as the gates should be arriving soon.

The stone in-filling of the golf course bridge was completed on Monday and construction vehicles can now drive across it.

The landing stage at lock 4 has now been completed.

The cantilever pedestrian walkway for the railway bridge is being made off-site.

The bank piling of the turning basin has been completed and it is ready for the excavation to be carried on to the full depth.

Finishing work continues on the three-rise staircase where the overflow weir and spillway alongside the flight is under construction. The steel safety ladders have been delivered and two have already been installed.

Work on the junction with the Lancaster Canal has begun. Three excavators have been at work to break through the embankment alongside the tow-path and excavate towards the basin. During this work the tow-path will be closed to the public. Bank piling at the basin is due to start on Wednesday 13th February.

Fred Dibnah has done some filming for his series 'Building of Britain' at the three-rise flight. The canal programme is scheduled to be number five which means it should be broadcast in four week's time.

The Trust has received £5,000 from the Waterways Trust small grants scheme.

This will be used to extend the moorings at Tarleton as far as the old flood lock and provide a winding hole near where the sunken boats are at present. These derelict boats are also to be removed.

British Waterways are building a new sanitary station at Sparks Bridge and all the landing stages at the swing bridges are being refurbished.

On another front - two planning applications have been submitted for the construction of marinas in this area.


Thu 7th February 2002

Piling works have been completed at lock 1 and excavation should start soon.

The capping beam has now been cast at lock 2 which is now complete apart from the gates and paddle gear.

The tube of the replacement golf course access bridge was lifted into position, just down-stream of the existing bridge, on Wednesday morning by a rather large mobile crane. The crane was then dismantled and moved to the farm access bridge site where it was re-assembled and the the new bridge lifted into place by three o'clock in the afternoon.

Profiling work is now substantially complete on the section of the channel which runs between the golf course and the sports ground. Sheet steel piles have been driven to protect the northern bank at the bend immediately up-stream of the golf course footbridge.

The unusually high tide of 1st February almost completely covered the works at lock 1 and water was seen flowing up-stream under the golf course access bridge - a very unusual occurrence - probably due to the widening and deepening of the channel. The dam at lock 3 was breached and the lock chamber flooded. The damage was quickly made good and work has continued through the week.

A long arm excavator has been working below lock 2A and lock 4 to remove sand and silt deposits left in the channel by storm-water flows.

Scaffolding has been erected at the railway bridge to enable remedial work to be carried out on the fabric of the bridge and for the installation of the cantilever pedestrian walkway through the arch.

Construction continues on the three-rise staircase where the reinforced concrete gate mountings have been completed. The second of three footbridges is being installed across the tail of lock 7 at in the middle of the three-rise and work is progressing on the spillway alongside the flight.

Work on the junction with the Lancaster Canal is due to begin shortly. During this work the tow-path will be closed to the public.


Sat 12th January 2002

The first of three footbridges has been installed across the tail of lock 6 at the bottom of the three-rise. Photo from Cliff Fazackerley on Latest Photographs 4.


Sat 5th January 2002

All of the returned comments about the proposed canal art trail along the Link have been assessed and a majority of 80% were in favour of the sculptures as presented. However, minor changes will be made to the statue at the top of the three-rise staircase. Thompson Dagnall is due to start work on the project early in the New Year and the works should be in place by the end of March.

What else will be happening over the next few months?

  • Continue profiling of banks ready for grass seeding in early spring
  • Completion of remaining locks and continue to install lock gates
  • Installation of the rising sector gate at lock 1
  • Installation of the farm access and golf course access bridges
  • Diversion of existing pipes and sewers that cross the navigation
  • Finish the installation of the weirs and start to impound water to operational levels
Work is due to start again on Monday 7th January following the break for Christmas.
Sat 22nd December 2001

Piling works have recently been started at Lock 1, the Sea Lock, where the contractor is erecting a temporary platform to enable the weir on the west side to be constructed. The gate is being built off-site and is expected to be fitted in March. Power for the operation of the lock will be supplied from a permanent building constructed from brick and with steel doors.

Lock 2 is now complete apart from the capping beam and gates.

The replacement farm access (Goodyear's) bridge is being assembled on the bank before being lifted into position, probably after the Christmas holiday.

Construction work continues on Locks 2a and 3 which should be completed early in the New Year. Some of the debris from the recent demolition of the Moor Lane tower blocks is being imported to improve the state of the access roads.

Profiling work is now going ahead on the section of the channel which runs between the golf course and the sports ground. The replacement golf course access bridge is being assembled on the bank before being lifted into position just down-stream of the existing bridge.

Locks 4 and 5 have both sets of gates fitted and work is continuing on the gate seals.

The cantilever walkway for pedestrian access through the railway bridge arch is being constructed off-site and the footbridges for the locks were delivered last week.

Construction continues on the three-rise staircase (Locks 6, 7 & 8) which is developing into an impressive structure. The gates of Lock 8 were installed on Wednesday 19th December.

Details of the connection to the Lancaster Canal have now been finalised and the order for the new tow-path bridge has been placed. The bank on the south side of the basin will be piled, the north side will have a soft bank.

The bio-security measures which had been in place to prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease were removed on 15th December.

There will be a WRG work-camp on the week-end of 12th-13th January 2002 and we are inviting people to volunteer to come and help with tree and shrub planting in the spring. If you want to help please contact Frank Parker on 01772 717367.


Sun 9th December 2001

The head and tail gates of lock 5 were installed on Thursday 6th December.

I had to leave the site at 2pm when the third balance beam was being eased into place. There are 24 photographs on the Photographs page. It was intended to install the tail gates of lock 4 later but I don't know if this was possible in the remaining daylight.

There are also 2 photographs of the site of lock 1, which is just south of Blackpool Road opposite the Lea Gate Hotel, where work has now started.


Sat 17th November 2001

A very well attended Public Exhibition was held at Ashton High School, Aldwych Drive, Ashton, Preston on the evenings of 14th & 15th November 2001 to inform local residents about the progress made in building of the Millennium Ribble Link and to put forward a proposal by Thompson Dagnall for public art along the Link. The exhibition was provided by British Waterways and The Waterways Trust.

The bottom gates of lock 4 and the gates of lock 5 should be installed shortly. Measurements have been taken for the gates of lock 8 at the top of the three-rise where the steel reinforced concrete work is proceeding rapidly.

Work is starting on the previously untouched section between lock 2A and the golf course bridge. this bridge is 300mm too low and will have to be replaced with a structure identical to the replacement farm access bridge.

Clay is being stockpiled around the site for use where necessary at the locks and for bank reinforcement work.


Sat 10th November 2001

British Waterways and The Waterways Trust have organised a further Ribble Link exhibition at Ashton School, Preston.

It will be open on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th November from 6-00 until 8-30pm. Officers of the Trust, including myself, will be in attendance.


Wed 31st October 2001

The replacement farm access bridge is now under construction on the bank at the moment. It is an Italian design called Tubosider - a sectional corrugated metal arch will be set on a gravel bed to form a tube-like tunnel protected by gabions at each end. The farm track will be laid over the tunnel on a grassed earth embankment. Wooden fenders will protect the tunnel sides from being damaged by boats and vice versa!


Wed 24th October 2001

By the 17th October the contractors, Gleeson, had worked 57 496 man-hours on the project with no accidents.

Work is now in progress along all but two sections of the Link. The first is from the Ribble estuary around the back of the Lea Gate Hotel to the British Nuclear Fuels Ltd pumping station and the second is the length which runs between the Ashton & Lea golf course and the BNFL sports ground.

The piling at the three-rise is complete, the tie-rods between the lock piles and the anchor piles have been installed and the chambers excavated. The installation of the culverts and the steel reinforced concrete parts of the locks comprising the flight is in progress.

The bank protection piles around the turning basin at the bottom of the three-rise are being installed and the basin has been partially excavated.

Between the railway bridge and Lea Road the newly profiled banks are showing a bright green colour having been turbo-seeded with a mixture of flax & jute fibres, grass seed and water. Some bank profiling, down-stream of lock 5, which was held up by nesting kingfishers and then by sand martins which subsequently occupied their nest is now going ahead.

Concreting work has been completed at lock 5 which now awaits the installation of its gates while work continues on the weir.

The concrete pad beneath Savick Way Bridge has been broken-up and removed to give sufficient depth of water for navigation without major modifications needing to be made to the bridge structure. Evidence of the work to remove the concrete pad below the bridge lies in and around the brook on both sides of the bridge.

The gates for lock 4 have been built by British Waterways and the top gates were installed on 16th October. The bottom gates could not be installed as the pots went missing overnight. The concrete sills will be cast with the gates in-situ to ensure a good seal. A landing stage has been partly built up-stream of lock 4, by BW workers, as a trial of the techniques needed for recycled plastic constructions.

Profiling of the south bank of the brook between lock3 and Lea Road has been completed.

A large quantity of pieces of masonry which had been used as bank protection have been removed from the brook. (Many of these blocks are roughly squared off and have a smooth rectangular recess with two bolt-holes making them look remarkably like stone railway sleepers. I would be grateful for any information about their origin.)


Sat 6th October 2001

Good progress is still being made despite the recent heavy rainfalls which have caused some parts of the site to become very muddy.

There are signs of imminent activity at the site of lock one where sheet steel piles are ready for use near the site. A Millennium Ribble Link sign has been erected by the Blackpool Road.

The new haul-road, alongside the fence of the BNFL sports ground from the Golf Club access road, has reached a point just west of the Ashton & Lea Golf Club sewer.

Large blocks of masonry have been recovered from the bed of the brook below the Golf Club access bridge.

Work is now in progress at lock 3 and profiling is being carried out on the south bank of the brook between there and Lea Road.

The virtually complete lock 4 is awaiting paddle gear and gates. Measurements have been taken for the gates which are being constructed by British Waterways. Grass is now showing on the banks around the lock and work is continuing on the landing stage.

Water rushing through Savick Way bridge, after heavy rain, has been hampering preparations for removal of concrete beneath the bridge. Here also the recently seeded banks are showing green growth. Metal mesh cages which, when filled with stone, will make gabions to protect vulnerable areas of bank are being assembled here.

The basic structure of lock 5 is almost complete behind its protective dam. The rise here is almost twice that of lock 4.

Excavation of the turning basin is continuing and the bank piling is in progress.

The chambers of the three-rise flight of locks have been excavated.


Mon 24th September 2001

The project remains on programme for its opening next year.

  • 100,000 tonnes of soil have been moved so far.
  • 10.4 kilometres of site fencing has been erected.
  • If all the piles were laid end to end they would stretch for 10 kilometres.

The aerial photographs section of the Photographs page has been updated with new and more detailed digital images which have been supplied by British Waterways.


Previous news items are in the News File.
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Last Revised: Sat 29th March 2003

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