Wigan canal lock flight receives heritage plaque

A special Wigan waterway feature has landed a heritage prize.
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The Wigan Flight of locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been awarded a prestigious Red Wheel plaque from the National Transport Trust.

The trust created the Red Wheel scheme to recognise and commemorate the most significant sites of historical importance to transport heritage in the UK.

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So far it has placed more than 150 plaques across the country.

Deputy Lieutenant Melanie Bryan OBE (centre), Jerry Swift – Deputy Chair of the National Transport Heritage Trust (left) and Richard Parry, CEO Canal and River Trust (right)Deputy Lieutenant Melanie Bryan OBE (centre), Jerry Swift – Deputy Chair of the National Transport Heritage Trust (left) and Richard Parry, CEO Canal and River Trust (right)
Deputy Lieutenant Melanie Bryan OBE (centre), Jerry Swift – Deputy Chair of the National Transport Heritage Trust (left) and Richard Parry, CEO Canal and River Trust (right)
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The Canal and River Trust (CART) welcomed Greater Manchester Deputy Lieutenant Melanie Bryan and members of the National Transport Heritage Trust, The Inland Waterways Association and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society to celebrate the attainment of the award at lock 86.

Jerry Swift, NTT Vice Chairman said: “We are really proud to add this Red Wheel to our growing national portfolio, marking as it does this vital part of Britain’s canal network.

The flight of 23 locks between Wigan and New Springs was opened in 1816 and raised the canal over 217ft, completing a 127-mile link between the two cities.

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The award highlights the phenomenal achievement of the engineers and construction workers who created the flight in an age before mechanised plant and machinery.

Following the unveiling of the award by the Deputy Lieutenant, attendees were invited to explore the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society’s historic workboat Kennet.

The boat was refurbished in 2012 through a Heritage Lottery grant and is now used as an exhibition boat which cruises along different parts of the canal and is often used for educational purposes as well as for small arts performances, films, illustrated talks, and private functions.

Guests were also given a short guided heritage walk which was delivered by local volunteer Peter Baxter.

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CART, CEO Richard Parry commented on the huge contribution made to the work of the CRT by its volunteers, many of whom were present at the ceremony.Bill Froggatt, CRT’s Volunteer Heritage Advisor outlined the history of the canal and the flight which was arguably the most difficult part of its construction and was the last section to be built.Canal historian Mike Clarke said “The principal cargos were coal and textiles, the very basis of Britain’s empire in the 19th century.

"It is perfectly reasonable to say this canal was the basis of Britain’s success at that time.”

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