Keeping the Water in

Traditional Techniques: NarrowBoat, Spring 2016

James Hewitt

James Hewitt recalls the processes of locating and stopping canal leaks.

Following on from my article describing traditional aspects of water control (Summer 2015, NB - link at the bottom of this page) we now look at the various processes of leak-stopping. From 1967 to ’74, I was employed on the Marple section, which consisted of the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals, as well as the Hall Green Branch of the Trent & Mersey. The Lower Peak Forest, from Marple Top Lock to Dukinfield, was closed at the time of my joining. Likewise, the final length from Bridgemont Junction to Bugsworth had been dewatered since the 1920s. The combined summit levels of this and the Macclesfield had been lowered by a few inches during the early 1960s, owing to excessive leakage through the banks, which made an already shallow canal even shallower. There were four reservoirs: Coombs or Combs (66 acres), Todd Brook (39 acres), Bosley (78 acres) and Sutton or Turks Head (15 acres). Standing orders were that in summertime we should try to draw evenly on all four reservoi…

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