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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 11:54 GMT
Historic Pennine waterway reopened
Canal boat
The canal first opened in 1804
A pioneering canal which opened nearly 200 years ago as the first man-made waterway across the Pennines has been reopened at the end of a 25m restoration project.

The Rochdale Canal was built to link the new industrial city of Manchester to its Yorkshire neighbour Leeds in 1804.

For 150 years, it thrived with its 92 locks as a major trans-Pennine freight route.

But the sharp decline in freight traffic after the advent of the railways meant the canal's days were numbered and the last boat crossed the Pennines through the canal in 1937.

Restoration project

The canal fell into disrepair and was closed in 1952. By 1965, many of its original locks had become unusable.

Work to restore parts of the waterway began during the 1980s and now Environment Minister Michael Meacher has performed the official ceremony, bringing it back to life for the first time in 50 years.

The ceremony marked the end of an 18-month, 25m restoration project to create a 32-mile navigation from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire.

A total of 15.5 miles of canal have been restored, with 24 new locks created and 12 new road bridges built.

British Waterways now hopes the canal can repeat its success in boosting industry in Manchester 200 years ago by acting as a catalyst for regeneration in the area.

Route chosen for 150m link canal
28 Feb 03 |  England
Canal lit up in celebration
17 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature
Drained canal to be refilled
17 Dec 02 |  England

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