A few points about the local canals of Calderdale

A few points about the local canals of Calderdale
A few points about the local canals of Calderdale

There are some further points which might be added to David Glover’s article (Courier, July 6) about local canals.

As he wrote, it was the Halifax Civic Trust which made the first move by contacting the Inland Waterways Association (IWA). Between them they initiated the Calder Navigation Society (CNS) which was inaugurated in April 1969.

It was agreed that whilst IWA would publish a guide to the Calder and Hebble Navigation (C&HN), encouraging boat owners from outside the area to visit the Calder Valley, CNS would acquire a boat and run trips to show local people the value of their waterway.

At that time the C&HN above Brighouse was still on British Waterways’ list of canals threatened with closure. That the canal is still open today is testament to the success of that strategy.

Many of your readers will remember the CNS’ boat ‘Doreen’, a wooden Windermere launch which continued to provide a local service of public trips up and down the Calder Valley from 1969 until the early 1990s.

She was succeeded by a more suitable craft, the steel hulled launch, ‘Savile’, built by Taybergs of Brighouse, and the society still runs her from a base at Mirfield.

Perhaps more significantly, in the early 1970s the late Mark and Roma Andrew founded the hire firm Shire Cruisers. Hiring boats from Sowerby Bridge was a major contribution to establishing Calderdale as a tourist destination, replacing some of the jobs lost through the decline of local industries.

Under their present owners, Nigel and Susan Stevens, the firm still operates from Sowerby Bridge and is regarded as one of the most respected such businesses in the country.

Apart from boat building and boat hire, lock gates are now built in Sowerby Bridge supporting restoration and maintenance of canals in other parts of the UK.

It must also be recorded that without massive support from Calderdale Council it is unlikely that any of the Rochdale Canal would have been restored at all.

Bit by bit the council maintained faith in the project until the Yorkshire side was completed.

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