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Home Tourist Attraction Major tourist attraction launches appeal ahead of proposed 12 to 18-month closure

Major tourist attraction launches appeal ahead of proposed 12 to 18-month closure

by Staff

Anderton Boat Lift project manager, Fran Littlewood (right), with C&RT’s managing director, Richard Parry (Image: Canal and River Trust)

ONE of Cheshire most popular tourist attractions has launched a major new funding appeal to ‘keep it alive’ for future generations.

Attracting around 100,000 visitor each year, the Anderton Boat Lift is set to undergo a massive overhaul and redevelopment of its visitor complex which will see the site closed for up to 18 months from Easter 2025.

The unique 150-year-old structure, the world’s first major commercial boat lift, needs an upgrade to enable the ageing machinery to continue transporting around 3,000 boats a year, 50 feet between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the River Weaver Navigation below.

The first milestone of its funding programme was achieved last December, when the Trust was awarded a £574,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the development phase of this essential project.

Northwich Guardian: C&RT's tour boat, the Edwin Clark, gives visitors the full boat lift experienceNorthwich Guardian: C&RT's tour boat, the Edwin Clark, gives visitors the full boat lift experience

Northwich Guardian: C&RT’s tour boat, the Edwin Clark, gives visitors the full boat lift experience

C&RT’s tour boat, the Edwin Clark, gives visitors the full boat lift experience (Image: C&RT)

The attractions owner, The Canal & River Trust (C&RT), has now launched a new winter appeal, caled ‘Keep Anderton Boat Lift Alive’, to ensure funds are in place keep the ‘Cathedral of the Canal’ performing long into the future.

C&RT project manager, Fran Littlewood, said: “Anderton Boat Lift is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ and it is our mission to keep it operational for generations to come.

“By January 2024, we are looking to appoint the main contractor, who will design and plan the works programme over the summer.

“The Trust will be seeking further grant funding and support from local businesses and philanthropists, which will be vital in enabling us to deliver the project.

“If all goes well, the plan will be to close the lift in early summer 2025 and reopen it 12 – 18 months later.

“This means that boaters and visitors can expect to enjoy a full season of boating in 2024 and potentially a short window around the following Easter, before it is wrapped in a protective encapsulation skin to give it a special 150th anniversary upgrade.”

Northwich Guardian: The boat lift's size, complexity, and the impact of salt water have means it has always be costly to maintainNorthwich Guardian: The boat lift's size, complexity, and the impact of salt water have means it has always be costly to maintain

Northwich Guardian: The boat lift’s size, complexity, and the impact of salt water have means it has always be costly to maintain

The boat lift’s size, complexity, and the impact of salt water have means it has always be costly to maintain (Image: Canal and River Trust)

Ever since the boat lift was created to provide a vital trade link between the river and the canal, it has proven challenging to maintain.

Salty water meant the original hydraulic rams rusted and seized up, and these were eventually replaced with a 1908 electric pulley system to haul the boat caissons up and down.

In 1983, 75 years later, it was declared unsafe and shut down for nearly two decades before it was restored around the year 2000.

Fran added: “It is remarkable this impressive, eclectic heritage structure is still working.

“If we deliver this important upgrade project now, it will hopefully ensure that we keep Anderton Boat Lift alive for many years to come – continuing to delight thousands of visitors and connecting two busy waterways for boaters.”

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