‘Keep Anderton Boat Lift Alive’ – canal charity launches winter fundraising appeal

Photos show the ‘Keep Anderton Boat Lift Alive’ appeal launch by Richard Parry (Canal & River Trust chief executive) and Fran Littlewood (project manager), plus images of the rusting lift structure in need of vital refurbishment.

Press release

‘KEEP ANDERTON BOAT LIFT ALIVE’ – canal charity launches winter fundraising appeal

The Canal & River Trust charity has launched a new winter appeal to ‘Keep Anderton Boat Lift Alive’ as it undertakes a major refurbishment project to ensure Cheshire’s historic ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ remains operational for the next generation.

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 Trust, which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways, operates the Scheduled Monument and runs the surrounding site as a popular visitor attraction. Each year thousands of tourists enjoy trips through the lift and along the river to Northwich aboard the Edwin Clark trip boat, named after one of the lift’s 19thcentury creators. As well as welcoming up to 100,000 visitors each year, the site also offers educational visits for schools, and a range of volunteering opportunities.

In addition to the work required to preserve and protect the iconic structure, there is also a proposal for upgrades to the visitor centre, amenities, and grounds surrounding the boat lift, as well as plans to construct a contemporary education and events space and the development of new learnin

g, skills, and outreach programmes.

The first milestone 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.

Canal & River Trust 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.

“Ever since the boat lift was created to provide a vital trade link between the river and canal, it has been a challenge 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 Millennium.

“It is remarkable that 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.”

To donate to the ‘Keep Anderton Ali

ve’ appeal, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/keepandertonalive.

Boat trips through the lift stop for the 2023 summer season at the end of October. Over winter (November – March), the Anderton Boat Lift & Visitor Centre continues to welcome visitors to the café and site at weekends only – Saturdays and Sundays, 9.30am – 4.30pm. The Trust’s popular Santa Cruises will run on all four weekends through December running up to Christmas.For more information, check out the Canal & River Trust website: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/anderton-boat-lift-visitor centre or call 01606 786777.