Tunnel key to opening lock

CELEBRATION: People in Sowerby Bridge celebrated the re-opening of the canal.

CELEBRATION: People in Sowerby Bridge celebrated the re-opening of the canal.

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CANAL fever hit Sowerby Bridge as thousands celebrated the re-opening of the Rochdale Canal during a three-day festival in May, 1996.

A £6m engineering project restored the link between the Rochdale Canal and the Calder and Hebble Navigation via a new 100-metre tunnel and lock close to Tuel Lane.

The new Tuel Lane lock at 8.1 metres made it into the record books for being the deepest lock in Britain. Much of the restoration was achieved thanks to funding from English Heritage derelict land’s grants.

The canal was officially declared open by the then Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Graham Reason who poured a bottle of “Chateau Rochdale” over the new lock gates, made at Callis Mills Workshop, Hebden Bridge. Special guests included Jonathon Porritt, former chairman of Friends of the Earth, and actor Colin Welland.

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