The Huddersfield Narrow Canal
Short but steep, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal rises into glorious Pennine moorland with many reservoirs and swathes of National Trust land. Once dubbed "the impossible restoration", the canal is now fully restored to navigation for the first time since 1944, as a result of a Millennium Project (funded by the Millennium Commission, English Partnerships and other agencies), which has been one of the most exciting and ambitious restoration projects in the country.
Standedge Tunnel is 17,000 feet long, one third bare rock, 638 feet below ground and 645 feet above sea level. On reopening safety considerations required that all boats to be towed through the tunnel in convoys behind an electric tug. After a few year operation boaters are now able to take their own boats through with a BW 'chaperone'. However cruising the canal needs careful planning since British Waterways staff must assist boats through some of the locks and boats must be booked for tunnel passages. See the Standedge Tunnel website. Tunnel trips in a glass topped boat are also available.
The tunnel (1811-1944) preceded three railway tunnels, took 16 years to construct and then £5 million to clear four rock falls and make safe, nearly bankrupting the company. Locks from the west up the Tame valley were open after three years (1797), as were those from the east up the Colne valley. Packhorses took transhipped goods on the turnpike over the top of the tunnel for the first fourteen years.
The Mikron Theatre Company is the most famous of several groups of players who tour the waterways system. Travelling aboard narrowboat Tyseley, they bring theatre to waterside pubs and village halls. Original plays, often on waterway related themes, always include songs and humour. They are based at the Mechanics Institute, Marsden where they also produce a wide range of community theatre.