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Edward_M

Connecting South to North

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Despite a Google search turning up nothing, a question that has long been on my mind has been whether there were ever plans to widen the connection of Northern and Southern canals for the access of widebeams and dutch barges. 

Where exactly is the 'pinch point' and what would be required to widen it?

 

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35 minutes ago, Edward_M said:

Despite a Google search turning up nothing, a question that has long been on my mind has been whether there were ever plans to widen the connection of Northern and Southern canals for the access of widebeams and dutch barges. 

Where exactly is the 'pinch point' and what would be required to widen it?

 

Oh that it was as simple as a pinch point. More a stretch of points - some of which are quite long.

Off the top (open for discussion...)

  • Middlewich through to Knowle (T&M to GU)
  • Foxton to Watford (GU Leicester to GU maniline). Foxton inclined plane could be reinstated
  • Northampton arm - that's the shortest and easiest one
  • Or 'start over' and build the Bedford link.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Oh that it was as simple as a pinch point. More a stretch of points - some of which are quite long.

Off the top (open for discussion...)

  • Middlewich through to Knowle (T&M to GU)
  • Foxton to Watford (GU Leicester to GU maniline). Foxton inclined plane could be reinstated
  • Northampton arm - that's the shortest and easiest one
  • Or 'start over' and build the Bedford link.

 

 

Better still widen all the poxy narrow locks so we can all buy comfy boats :)

  • Greenie 1

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42 minutes ago, Edward_M said:

Despite a Google search turning up nothing, a question that has long been on my mind has been whether there were ever plans to widen the connection of Northern and Southern canals for the access of widebeams and dutch barges. 

Where exactly is the 'pinch point' and what would be required to widen it?

 

Foxton Inclined Plane was built for wide boats. At the time it was also proposed to widen the narrow Watford Locks, which would have created a through route for wide boats.

But the Inclined Plane was not a success, and was abandoned after 10 years or so, and Watford were never widened.

 

The Grand Contour Canal would have provided another larger north-south route, but never got beyond an idea.

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2 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

And the bridges....

Yes that would help.

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Or get a proper seaworthy boat, sail out of the Thames, back in the Humber.

 

 

 

And please leave the lovely quaint anachronistic old canals alone for us who enjoy them in our cramped old narrow boats.

Edited by Rick-n-Jo
auto confuse
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In the early 1930's the then government gave the GUCCCo a grant to widen the locks and much of the cut from Braunston to Birmingham. The original Birmingham to Warwick and the Warwick to Napton Canals being narrow.* The GU from London to Braunston was built with wide locks from its inception. The money ran out when the scheme reached the Camp Hill Flight so they were never widened. Also the GUCCCo didn't pay too much attention to altering some of the bridges, the one at the Blue Lias Pub as a classic example. The idea was to use wide craft from London to Birmingham but the whole scheme became financially nonviable.

I do not see CRT ever widening the Camp Hill Flight. (Good)

* The canal from Napton to Braunston was the Oxford Canal but that was built to narrow dimensions.

Edited by Ray T

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As I understand it the Leicester GU line was built to accommodate wide beams but the locks were not i suspect that now its so silted and overgrown it would be an expensive job to clear it back to plan. The bit about the incline plane and the widening of Watford locks has been said but some years ago WWW published a fairly detailed plan (linked I think to reopening the incline plane) to build slipways and a haul road at Watford so wide boats could be pulled up the hill and thus bypass the locks. I think the originator was a member here.

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11 hours ago, Rick-n-Jo said:

Or get a proper seaworthy boat, sail out of the Thames, back in the Humber.

 

 

 

And please leave the lovely quaint anachronistic old canals alone for us who enjoy them in our cramped old narrow boats.

Yes, I assumed it wasn't feasible, just interested in where the system becomes narrow (which I think everyone has covered).

In regards to your point - my boat is Cat C, so may someday make the trip out of Thames and back into the Humber. 

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12 hours ago, Rick-n-Jo said:

Or get a proper seaworthy boat, sail out of the Thames, back in the Humber.

And please leave the lovely quaint anachronistic old canals alone for us who enjoy them in our cramped old narrow boats.

Agreed! As has been said many times before, just because a canal has wide locks does not mean it is designed/suitable for wide boats (rather than fitting two NBs into each lock).

  • Greenie 2

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I was always of the understanding that  the widening of the locks on the north GU  was to avoid trans shipment at Braunston allowing through passage from Brum to London &"tother way without having to swap buttys & /or unload at Braunston as said the Foxton plane was supposed to deal with the flight & the widening or duplicate locks at Watford would have allowed wide beam or narrow boat pairs to access the Soar Trent etc  the T&M had duplicate locks on the Cheshire locks which speeded up passage but boats were still restricted the waterway to narrow beam boats IIRC they then found th at a number of bridges would also need some modification to take the proposed 14ft beam craft all the time the railways were taking trade from the canal so the money was not there to finish what had been set in motion.

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Of the various possibilities I feel that the Bedford to MK link is the most likely to happen, as it is perhaps the easiest to justify economically. Their site talks about it taking maybe 20 years to finish, costing around £200 million and providing millions back each year to the local economy, but inevitably such figures are open to dispute because the benefits of any new waterway are going to be rather indirect. Anyone wanting to use it to move a widebeam from north to south would still need to cross the Wash, but I gather that's safe enough on a calm day for people who've prepared properly.

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The missing link that came closest to being built is the Leicester Section - with the advent of the Foxton Inclined Plane FMC registered a wide beam in Leicester for trade to London, although clearly it never made the journey, also the Grand Union Canal co. had plans to replace Foxton with a wide 8-rise staircase

I believe that there was an undertaking that, if the Leicester Summit was opened to wide boats then the Northampton Branch would also be widened, as this route replaced the proposed route between Foxton and Northampton on the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire Union Canal, which would have been wide. That said, I can't find a source for thos and don't know who would have given the undertaking given the Leicester summit and the Northampton Branch were built by different companies.

I'd agree that the most likely way such a link would be achieved now is the MK-Bedford link, coupled with the Fenland Waterways Link 

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10 hours ago, Peter X said:

Anyone wanting to use it to move a widebeam from north to south would still need to cross the Wash, but I gather that's safe enough on a calm day for people who've prepared properly.

As King John will testify. :P

  • Greenie 1

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Pownall's Contour canal was proposed to run from the weaver to Wolverhampton I think post war . I presume to River Weaver dimensions. Proposed I beleive post war 

I think the terminus was at Su/ Stafs Worcs  level rather than the BCN Wolverhampton level

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12 hours ago, Ogwr said:

Pownall's Contour canal was proposed to run from the weaver to Wolverhampton I think post war . I presume to River Weaver dimensions. Proposed I beleive post war 

I think the terminus was at Su/ Stafs Worcs  level rather than the BCN Wolverhampton level

If you want more details, there is an article on proposed canal improvements in the UK in Waterways Journal Vol. 1.

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On 5/20/2017 at 21:04, Ogwr said:

Pownall's Contour canal was proposed to run from the weaver to Wolverhampton I think post war . I presume to River Weaver dimensions. Proposed I beleive post war 

I think the terminus was at Su/ Stafs Worcs  level rather than the BCN Wolverhampton level

It extended south to Hertford and near Southampton. It was proposed to be at 310 feet above sea level, so 163 feet below the Wolverhampton Level, and presumably therefore around S&W summit level.

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