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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 02:18 GMT
Massive canal revamp unveiled
Canal boat
Canals are increasingly popular
A 500m revamp of Britain's ageing canal network has been unveiled.

The two-stage scheme by British Waterways will restore or build over 300 miles of canals and waterways.

Many experts believe a new age of the canal is dawning in the UK with narrowboat holidays increasingly popular and more people choosing to live in houseboats.

Waterways are still catalysts and millions are benefiting in communities throughout the UK

George Greener
British Waterways
It has been estimated there are between 20,000 and 25,000 boats on the British Waterways network and a similar number on the River Thames.

The first phase, to open some 220 miles of canals and structures, will be completed in 2002 and included the Anderton Boat Lift.

The pioneering lift was built in 1875 to carry cargo carrying boats between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal 50ft above. It will reopen on 26 March.

The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland is the world's first ever rotating boat lift and will open to the public on 1 May.

New canal

A programme of nine further canal restoration and new waterway schemes will be unveiled by British Waterways in partnership with independent charity, the Waterways Trust.

Covering 100 miles of waterways, from London to the Lake District, the programme includes the first new canal to be designed for a century, the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway.

George Greener, chairman of British Waterways said: "Canals were catalysts for economic growth two centuries ago, and with our partners we're restoring and opening them as fast as they were originally built.

"Today, waterways are still catalysts and millions are benefiting in communities throughout the UK.

"Our current programme is set to deliver 100 million into local economies every year, from Scotland to the south of England, and to create 13,000 new permanent jobs."

Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive of The Waterways Trust said: "Accessible to all, rich in heritage and important havens for wildlife, inland waterways provide a peaceful and tranquil environment for everyone."

The other restorations are:

  • Chesterfield Canal

  • Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

  • The Kennet and Avon Canal.

  • The Millennium Link reconnecting the Forth & Clyde and Union canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh and coast-to-coast across Scotland.

  • Rochdale Canal

    The nine new projects are:

  • Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway

  • Bow Back Rivers, a network of tributaries of the River Lee Navigation in east London.

  • Cotswold Canals

  • Droitwich Canals

  • Foxton Inclined Plane, located on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal.

  • Liverpool Extension to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

  • Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal

  • Montgomery Canal

  • Northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal

    The BBC's Tom Heap
    "Canal renaissance stems from today's boom business of leisure and lifestyle"
    Ailsa Raeburn of British Waterways
    "We are announcing a series of eight projects from London up to the Lake District"
    See also:

    30 Jan 02 | England
    Homes clear way for boats
    26 May 01 | Scotland
    Canal re-opens after 40 years
    21 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
    Canals making a comeback
    01 Oct 01 | England
    Canal project makes web splash
    25 Aug 01 | Scotland
    Waterway re-opens after 30 years
    07 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
    Canal age dawns anew in UK
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