50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 What was happening in 1966? The work of Peak Forest Canal Society (PFCS) features heavily in the 1966 editions of Navvies, with regular detailed updates from a certain John Foley, local working party organiser. By this point, the Society were concentrating on the Marple lock flight, site of the 1966 IWA Rally, which had been organised to highlight the state of the canal. While trying to negotiate formal permission from BWB to work on the flight, the Society were limited to fairly cosmetic work, but to some effect: “A vigorous renovation process, accompanied by application of large quantities of paint, has completely transformed the previous derelict appearance of the flight, cut vandalism to a bare minimum and arrested the continuing process of deterioration”. The Society noted that it had been able to replace three lock balance beams for £15, against the estimated cost of £300.
What’s happened since? The Peak Forest and Ashton Canals remained significant sites for volunteer effort for the next few Marple 1969, once major restoration had replaced ‘cosmetic’ work years, with major work parties organised on the Ashton in 1968 and at Marple in 1969, culminating in the famous ‘Ashtac’ weekend in 1972 where 1000 volunteers cleared tonnes of rubble and rubbish from the canal, getting very muddy in the process. BW bowed to the inevitable, and with local authority support and continued volunteer input, the canals were reopened in the celebrated year of 1974, restoring the ‘missing link’ in the Cheshire Ring cruising route (fully reopened when the ‘Rochdale Nine’ locks in Manchester were returned to navigable standard a couple of years later). The restoration of Bugsworth (or Buxworth) Basin took somewhat longer however, despite the persistent work of the Inland Waterways Protection Society, with the basins finally reopened in 2003, but further work carried out since then. Having finished ‘their’ canal, the volunteers of PFCS Mobile joined up with a number of other volunteer groups from the area to form WRG NorthWest, who need no further introduction!
Return to the Peak Forest: a cleanup to mark 40 years since Ashtac (with some 1972 veterans)
Navvies 275. WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. 1966-2016.