Boaters hit by canal vandalism

Stranded... canal boats at Poolstock locks
Stranded... canal boats at Poolstock locks

FED-up boaters were stuck on Wigan’s canal for more than half a day after the water was drained by vandals overnight.

Four canal boats were moored on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, opposite the Shanghai Palace off Poolstock Lane, when youths damaged the locks in Chapel Lane, causing the water level to drop to such a level the basin was almost dry.

It took almost a day for an operative from British Waterways to refill the canal.

One boater said he fell out of bed as his Dutch barge tilted due to the lack of water.

Martin Clarke, 45, originally from South London, said: “I woke up at 3.30am and rolled out of bed. I have been stuck here twice this week and I intend to move as soon as I am allowed.

“The first time I think it was youths draining the lock pound, but this time I think it may be incompetent boaters not closing the lock gates properly and the fact that the lock is broken. I’ve just had enough - I need to find a decent private mooring place.”

Sandie and Alan Nuttall, of Horwich, have been travelling on a canal boat from Llangollen and had planned to get to Adlington on Monday, but had to spend most of the day waiting in Wigan.

Alan, 60, said: “We did a lot of travelling the day before to get to this point as there are 21 locks to get through. We thought we would get through the flight in six hours while the weather is nice, but it looks like we will be a day late and will have to do it in the rain.”

Nigel Dawson, 46, owns his own boat and had planned to get home to Chorley after a two-week holiday, which began in Llangollen.

He said: “It sets people back. I wanted to get to Chorley tonight, but luckily we were ahead of schedule.

“I have been told it’s vandals but they need the lock key and windlass to open the gates. If it was vandalism, you would think British Waterways would install CCTV.”

A British Waterways spokesman said: “The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was drained of water at Chapel Lane in Wigan due to vandalism of the locks. This has happened on numerous occasions and we will now be locking the locks early evening to avoid this happening in the future.

“Water is very precious, especially in the summer time, and we would ask local people to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.”