The Canal, between Ashton-under-lyne and Huddersfield, opened to through traffic in 1811 and took 17 years to build. It includes Standedge Tunnel which took over 16 years to build and at 5.2 kilometres (over 3 miles) in length, is the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain.
The canal’s construction was a major feat of engineering and human effort that developed the economies of the Tame and Colne valleys at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
With increasing competition from the railways the canal fell into decline in the late 19th century, officially closing in 1944. The canal became derelict and over the next 30 years sections were infilled, bridges lowered and the majority of its 74 locks were dismantled or made safe.
In 1981 volunteers from the Huddersfield Canal Society pioneered a successful restoration of a half-mile section of canal, including two lock chambers in Uppermill, with the ultimate aim of reopening the canal to full navigation.
In 1985 a partnership between Tameside, Oldham and Kirklees Councils, the Huddersfield Canal Society and British Waterways was formed, with the aim of opening the canal to allow through navigation.
By 1996 the partners had managed to restore over 12 miles of the 20 miles of the canal. Within Tameside, with the exception of the route through Stalybridge town centre, work to the existing channel was either in progress or completed, including the Staly Wharf scheme off High St.
However, many of the more complex blockages remained, and a bid was made for funding from the National Lottery Millennium Fund to complete what was once dubbed “The impossible restoration.”
In December 1996 the Millennium Commission announced its offer of £14.85 million grant support towards the £30 million cost of completing the full restoration of the canal and since then a great deal of design and planning work has been carried out. Recently English Partnerships confirmed its £12.8 million contribution to the overall funding package to ensure that the work can now progress.
In addition to Stalybridge town centre the project includes the removal of major blockages at:
High Street and Wool Road, Uppermill
Slaithwaite Town Centre
Bates and Sellers mills, Huddersfield
The exhibition shows the details of the restoration works in the town centre and also the development plans and opportunities the canal is generating. A map showing some of these is printed in the centre of this leaflet.
Benefits and Opportunities From Through Navigation
A study carried out in 1994 concluded that the full restoration of the canal would bring:
£83 million of private sector investment
2,567 full time equivalent jobs
443,000 sq. ft of employment floorspace
2,000 additional boat movements per year
The Ashton and Lower Peak Forest Canals converge at Portland Basin forming the north-east corner of the Cheshire Ring. With a navigable Huddersfield Canal (linking with the Yorkshire and other Trans Pennine waterways) also running into the Basin, many benefits will arise from tourism and visits from canal boats. The council is keen to encourage tourism-related developments in Stalybridge, Portland Basin and Mossley.
A number of new developments are planned either alongside or close to the canal in Stalybridge:
The redevelopment of the former Delta Crompton Cables factory for a foodstore, retail units, pubs . restaurant, housing and car parking.
The refurbishment of the Market Hall to include community facilities.
The refurbishment / redevelopment of the Longlands Mill site for mixed housing and leisure uses.
There will be opportunities for many new jobs from canal - related and leisure uses and existing business will benefit from full restoration. A high quality of design will be sought from canal-side development in keeping with the important heritage value of Stalybridge.
The huddersfield Narrow Canal Millennium Project will preserve and celebrate an important part of our heritage, create a quality environment to be proud of and will attract new investment and jobs along the canal corridor.
For further information on -
The Millennium Project, Contact Alan Stopher, Huddersfield Canal Company 0161 339 1332
Development Opportunities & Issues - Call in at the project office, 30 Melbourne Street Stalybridge (Opening in April) or phone Rick Malone, Tameside Council’s Stalybridge Project Officer, on 0161 342 2789
Engineering works in Stalybridge - Contact Tameside M.B.C Environmental Services on 0161 342 3960
Canal management issues, contact British Waterways on 01484 844 298