Community invited to explore their Hebden Bridge canal at family open day

Canoeing, heritage walks, stonemasonry and discovering an historic lock – there’s an activity to appeal to everyone at a family open day on the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge on Saturday 12 March.

By Abigail Kellett
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 10:00 am

Organised by waterways and wellbeing charity, the Canal & River Trust, the open day gives visitors the unique opportunity to explore their local canal and hear about the charity’s work to protect and preserve the waterway.

The Trust is currently carrying out essential repairs and maintenance work at Blackpit Lock on the Rochdale Canal as part of its multi-million-pound extensive winter works programme. Visitors will be able to get a rare and fascinating insight into the inner workings of the lock by peering into the structure, which will be partially drained, from the safety of the bridge. Meanwhile, waterways specialists will be on hand to answer questions and explain more about the lock’s workings and 200-year-old masonry that’s usually hidden below the waterline.

Families will be able to take part in an array of activities, including canoeing sessions on the canal, accompanied by Canal & River Trust experts.

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Blackpit Lock, Hebden Bridge

Meanwhile, on the towpath, Canal & River Trust volunteers will be leading heritage walks and sharing some interesting facts about the canal.

For those wanting to flex their creative juices, a professional stonemason will be hosting workshops where people can have a go at stonemasonry, carving their own piece of stone to take home as a memento of the day.

There will be several stalls, including Explorer activities for all the family such as bingo, a fishing game, and interactive booklets to take home to teach children about water safety. And if all this whets people’s tastebuds to get involved with their local canal, there’s a stall where they can find out about volunteering opportunities.

The event coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Rochdale Canal re-opening to boats in 2002, following an ambitious volunteer restoration project.

The open day runs from 10am until 2pm. All activities are bookable on the day. Parking, including disabled parking, is available but spaces are limited.

Martin Pollard, Construction Manager for the Canal & River Trust, explained: “The work being undertaken at Blackpit Lock gives people the opportunity to look at the canal from a different perspective. They can see what’s under the waterline and understand more about the work we are doing to ensure our historic waterways are protected and preserved for boaters and the local community to use and enjoy.”

Kerri Brown, Participation Project Leader for the Canal & River Trust, added: “This open day is a great way to bring local history to life, show people the work that we do to look after this important part of the area’s heritage and the sort of activities we offer. Research shows that being by water has a positive effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing and events like this are so important in encouraging more people to spend time by the canal.”