Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic continues, to protect fellow passengers and crew, passengers will be expected to wear face coverings on board and the number of passengers will be limited to six. We hope to run the boat every day up to the end of the school summer holidays but this will depend on the availability of crew, who are all volunteers. Please check our online trip calendar to ensure the boat is running and not being used for a wedding on any day you intend to take a trip.
May 1st 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the reopening of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to through traffic.
Current pandemic restrictions make celebratory gatherings impossible this year but we aim to mark the reopened canal’s ‘Coming of Age’ on the 21st Anniversary on May 1st 2022 instead. The accompanying photographs show the then Mayor of Kirklees cutting the tape on the approach to the new Bates Tunnel, the first boat to make the full passage from east to west and the first boat into Stalybridge on the west side.
The reopening in 2001 enabled boats to cross the Pennines once more by the shortest route and traverse the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in the UK. The canal had officially been closed during the Second World War and the last known passage was in 1948 when an intrepid crew made the journey from Ashton-under-Lyne to Huddersfield in 1948.
The Huddersfield Canal Society, formed in 1974, gradually gained the confidence of local and navigation authority partners and started to restore sections from the 1980s onward. Although significant progress had been made on reconstructing 62 of the 74 locks by the mid-1990s, it took major funding from Millennium Commission and English Partnerships to open the remaining blockages.
First British Waterways took on the operation and maintenance of the 20 mile long canal as part of the national network and from 2012 it became the responsibility of the Canal and River Trust. Both organisations have made improvements in the navigability of the canal. It is now an established part of the network and on many boaters’ bucket-lists. As well as transforming the centres of Stalybridge and Slaithwaite it has encouraged regeneration and new businesses in the Tame and Colne Valleys.
Standedge Visitor Centre also opened in 2001 and since then it has been providing many visitors with trips into the restored Standedge tunnel.
The first boats approach Lock 1e in Huddersfield
The Mayor of Kirklees cutting the tape at Queen Street in Huddersfield
David Sumner, Chairman of Huddersfield Canal Society, aboard the first boat into Stalybridge.
The Canal and River Trust has created a number of short videos as part of its Standedge ‘Virtual Open Day’.
One of these features Huddersfield Canal Society Chairman Alan Stopher talking about the restoration of the canal and about the place of the Society as we approach the 20th anniversary of the canal’s re-opening.
Links to more of CRT’s ‘Virtual Open Day’ videos can be found on our Facebook page.
The Canal Society is planning to run its trip boat Marsden Shuttle on a regular schedule throughout this year’s Marsden Jazz Festival from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th October 2019. Always a popular event, do come along, have a free boat trip (donations welcomed) and enjoy the music as well!
Thanks to Paul Thompson and Kim Warren for all their work in making it happen. Great credit should also be given for the 50 musical performers who gave their time so generously. Also a big thank you to Bev and her team at CRT for pulling out all the stops to ensure its success.
Here are some great pictures of the day, all courtesy of Alan Stopher, Chairman HCS.
The Marsden Shuttle was busy all day
Enoch’s Hammer entertain a young visitor
The Blackbird Family craft stall was popular with children and adults alike
The Ticket Collectors entertain
Some French dancing getting ahead of Brexit
The Uketeers warm up the wrist action for a Woo or two
We are now running the Marsden Shuttle every day during the school holidays; providing we can get skippers and crew. Why not take a trip with your kids from Lock 42E by Marsden station to the visitor centre at Standedge, Tunnel End. Have a look at our online calendar so you can be absolutely sure we are running when you plan to visit. See you soon!
The Marsden Shuttle keeping busy at the Tunnel End Festival on Sunday 21st July. Photo: Alan Stopher
It was great to have our friends the East Manchester Community Boat Project joining us at this annual event. Their friendly crew gave around 400 local people a free boat trip on ‘Community Spirit 2’ during the two days. Pictured above are eager passengers going aboard and below their crew lining up to receive First Prize for the Best Presented Boat from HCS Council member Peter Rawson.