Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Rochdale Nine

For the uninitiated I should explain that the Rochdale Nine, although infamous, are not victims of some miscarriage of justice.  These are the nine broad locks which take the  Rochdale Canal down from Dale Street to Castlefield  within Manchester.
I have only negotiated them once before: it was 1977 when we had to stop at a little wooden hut and buy a day licence for the privilege of subjecting ourselves to the risk of a hernia.

The first couple of locks are underneath buildings. At least some lights have been installed in the last 35 years.

When we last came down here we were walking in six inches of water.

There are no bywashes for excess water to escape so it cascades over the gates and adds to the build up of water which emanates from the leaks.

At some points there is no towpath so access to the locks can only be achieved via the landing stages:  these, too are a novelty to us. Thirty five years ago we had to climb from the bows directly onto the lockside.

At one time access would have been made from the street, via the steps but these are no longer accessible:  they have been blocked off and a glass and steel barrier installed along the wall to prevent any more drunks falling into the canal.

Again, safety of the reckless is more important than that of the  careful.

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