work on the Canal predates the formation of the Society. The two
Locks into the River Mersey were restored in the early 1980’s
to form marinas for sea-going/estuary pleasure boats. Thus Halton
Borough Council restored one of the Wood End Locks at Widnes, making
a slip-way in the other lock-space, and Warrington Borough Council
restored the remaining lock at Fiddlers Ferry in the third phase
of an extensive programme which put most of the Canal within its
boundaries in water... whilst still leaving the fixed road and railway
bridges to prevent through navigation.... In fairness, their aim
was limited - to create a marina, provide it with water from upstream,
and to improve the appearance of the waterway where it ran through
a linear park being created along its length from Widnes to St Helens.
idea of forming a Canal Society for the Sankey was to widen that
aim so that the country’s first modern canal would be fully
restored. There is only one 'First Canal of the Industrial Revolution'
- it’s the Sankey, and it should never have been allowed to
fall into the neglected state it was in by the 1970’s. We
intend to ensure that the Canal’s primacy is fully acknowledged,
and that funds are found to return it to full navigation.
SCARS was formed, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council has been
moved to gain extensive funds for work on the Canal within its boundaries.
The most spectacular work involved the restoration of the New Double
Locks, which are well worth a visit. Being connected to the network
of Restoration Societies paid off well here - the Callis Mill works
of the Rochdale Canal Society supplied the gates at a fraction of
the quoted commercial price. If we hadn’t been able to tell
the Council about Callis Mill, the Locks would probably have been
restored with solid barriers rather than gates.
Society produced its own 'Statement of Intent' in the form of a
booklet entitled 'Sailing the Sankey' (now sold out)...- in which
the obstructions to navigation are listed. A Feasibility Study was
completed in the mid-1990's. Our partners in the Local Authorities
are now working on a follow-up Economic Benefits Study.