Boat mishap closes canal

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MODIFICATIONS are to be made to lock gates on the Rochdale Canal just days after the waterway was put out of action by a serious accident.

The incidnent happened in Sowerby Bridge when the bow of a narrowboat got stuck under the balance beam and partly lifted the gate off its hinges. Repairs are unlikely to be completed until the end of next week.

A similar accident at Gargrave on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in 1998 claimed the lives of four disabled people and prompted a major safety review.

To prevent a repeat, British Waterways began fitting oak fenders on some gates and now wants planning approval for changes to gates on 15 locks from Sowerby Bridge to Todmorden.

Between 2000 and 2008 there were 51 gate-related incidents and 12 boats were sunk, according to British Waterways.

Nigel Stevens who runs Shire Cruises in Sowerby Bridge said such incidents were rare but potentially very dangerous. “It has happened around here a couple of times in the past five years.”