THE BIG LIFT- 11th October 2005
Transport boss Mr. Bob Heaton, of the Heatons Group, will breathe a huge sigh of relief this week when the massive bulk of an old canal barge is carried through the gates of his company's Lock Street premises at Merton Bank, St. Helens. For 15 years the barge has taken up a large area of the Heaton Transport's yard, as the slow work of restoring the craft has gone on. The firm needs the space for its expanding Renault Daf Trucks dealership.
The historic grain barge BARMERE weighs 30 tonnes, is 23 metres long, over 4 metres wide, and 2 metres high. A 160-tonne capacity crane will be required to lift the vessel onto a special lorry for the trip to its new home on the Sankey Canal at Spike Island, Widnes.
With the co-operation of Halton Borough Council, who own the section of the Sankey Canal in their Borough, the barge will be converted into a floating exhibition centre once it is at its new home.
Built at Northwich in 1948 for the Bridgewater Department of the Manchester Ship Canal Company, she served for a quarter of a century transporting grain from Manchester Docks to the Kellogg's Corn Flakes factory at Stretford. In 1988 the Sankey Canal Restoration Society found her in a dilapidated state at the end of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in the Stanley Locks, after she had seen very hard service being used for clearing rubbish floating in the Liverpool and Birkenhead Docks for the previous decade.
In 1989 she was craned out of the water and taken to St. Helens for restoration. The first phase of this was completed in August when her re-plated hull was grit-blasted by NL Williams Group Ltd. of Jackson Street, St. Helens, and a special, long-lasting paint applied.
The lift is being carried out by the UK's largest crane-hire company, Ainscough Crane Hire, who are based at Standish, Wigan. They have generously waived most of the cost of the move.
The Revd. David Long, Chairman of the Restoration Society, said: "It will be wonderful to see the Barmere craned back into the water after so long ashore. We will begin converting the interior of the barge soon, and look forward to welcoming visitors aboard her when the work is completed. The barge is very similar in type and size to the Mersey flats and barges which were a common sight on the Canal at Widnes until it closed in 1963, and will help visitors to this popular waterside area to appreciate its past."
"We are very grateful to the Heatons Group for allowing the Society to keep the boat in their yard for so many years, and to Ainscough Crane Hire for making the move possible."
Details of the Lift:
Places: The barge will be craned onto a low-loader at Heatons (Woodwards Renault Daf Truck Dealership), Lock Street, off Merton Bank Road, St. Helens, WA9 1HS, and will the travel to the Sankey/ St. Helens Canal at Spike Island, off Waterloo Road, Widnes.
Date: Thursday, October 13th
Times: 08.00: Crane on site at St. Helens
09.15: Lorry in position, crane rigged and ready to lift
10.15: Barge secured on lorry and ready for journey to Widnes
11.00: Barge arrives at Spike Island, Widnes
12.15: Crane rigged and ready to lift
13.00: Barmere secured to her mooring on the Sankey Canal
Please note: All times are approximate and may be subject to alteration during the lift.
For information on the day, please ring mobile phone: 07944 101162
CONTACTS: The Revd. David Long, Chairman of SCARS:
Tel. 01942 864383/ email: email@example.com
EDITOR'S NOTES :
The Sankey Canal Restoration Society (SCARS) was formed in 1985. The principal aim of the Society is to achieve the full restoration of the Canal. To bring this about, the Society actively publicises and promotes the cause of the Canal, particularly in the three Boroughs through which it runs - Halton (Widnes), Warrington, and St Helens. The Society supplements and supports the work the three Boroughs carry out themselves, particularly through their Ranger Services. In return, the Boroughs have positive policies towards the Canal and its restoration. SCARS carries out a Restoration Programme throughout the year, holding regular work parties. From September to April, monthly Members Meetings are held. These usually take the form of talks illustrated with slides, covering the Sankey itself, restoration work on other canals in the country, and subjects of related interest to the Canal and the towns it served. A team of Members staff the Society's publicity caravan and stall at various shows and rallies locally and nationally.
The Society's website is at: http://www.scars.org.uk/
Background information about the BARMERE may be found in past issues of the Society's Newsletter at:
Archive photographs of the Barmere at work in 1961 are available at:
http://www.images.manchester.gov.uk/ (Images M54071, 54072, 54075)
(Previous press release, "Lottery Award", 27th July 2005, available here.)