Shepley Bridge Lock On Calder And Hebble Navigation - Mirfield, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 40.455 W 001° 40.542
30U E 587481 N 5948095
Quick Description: This is the 11th lock on the canal from the start at Wakefield.
Location: Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 2/1/2015 10:11:01 AM
Waymark Code: WMNAKB
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 0

Long Description:

The Calder and Hebble Navigation
The Calder and Hebble Navigation completed in 1770 consisted of artificial improvements to the River Calder and River Hebble to allow canal boats use what used to be un-navigable rivers.

It ran for 21 miles from the Aire and Calder Navigation at Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge, was one of the first navigable waterways into the Pennines. It was an extension westwards of the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Work began in 1758 to make the River Calder navigable above Wakefield. The navigation to Sowerby Bridge was completed in 1770, including a short branch to Dewsbury.

In 1828 a branch to Halifax was opened, rising 110 feet to a terminus at Bailey Hall, behind Halifax Railway Station. There were 14 locks on the branch which closely followed the route of the River Hebble. Most of the branch was abandoned in 1942 apart from the short section from Salterhebble to Exley.

About half of the navigation is along the course of the River Calder, with short man-made cuts with locks to by-pass weirs. There are two lengthy man-made sections, from Calder Grove to Ravensthorpe and from Brighouse to Sowerby Bridge.

Most commercial traffic on the Calder and Hebble had ceased by 1955, although coal was still carried to Thornhill power station until 1981. However, the whole of the Calder and Hebble remained open for leisure use. The re-opening of the Rochdale Canal between Sowerby Bridge and Littleborough summit in 1996 and Manchester in 2002 has increased the traffic along the Calder and Hebble and it now forms part of the South Pennine Ring.

Shepley Bridge Lock

The Calder and Hebble Navigation
The Calder and Hebble Navigation completed in 1770 consisted of artificial improvements to the River Calder and River Hebble to allow canal boats use what used to be un-navigable rivers.

It ran for 21 miles from the Aire and Calder Navigation at Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge, was one of the first navigable waterways into the Pennines. It was an extension westwards of the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Work began in 1758 to make the River Calder navigable above Wakefield. The navigation to Sowerby Bridge was completed in 1770, including a short branch to Dewsbury.

In 1828 a branch to Halifax was opened, rising 110 feet to a terminus at Bailey Hall, behind Halifax Railway Station. There were 14 locks on the branch which closely followed the route of the River Hebble. Most of the branch was abandoned in 1942 apart from the short section from Salterhebble to Exley.

About half of the navigation is along the course of the River Calder, with short man-made cuts with locks to by-pass weirs. There are two lengthy man-made sections, from Calder Grove to Ravensthorpe and from Brighouse to Sowerby Bridge.

Most commercial traffic on the Calder and Hebble had ceased by 1955, although coal was still carried to Thornhill power station until 1981. However, the whole of the Calder and Hebble remained open for leisure use. The re-opening of the Rochdale Canal between Sowerby Bridge and Littleborough summit in 1996 and Manchester in 2002 has increased the traffic along the Calder and Hebble and it now forms part of the South Pennine Ring.

Shepley Bridge Lock
This lock is at the downstream end of one of the short artificial navigation cuts that bypass the main course of the river Calder. This section known as Shepley Cut was started in 1775.

Because this lock is at the junction with River Calder great care has to be taken when the river water level is high or in flood. Unlike a flood lock at the upstream end of a navigation this lock is a true lock, but may be closed for operation during flood conditions.

At the junction with the river a coloured indicator board acts as a visual guide as to whether it is safe to use the lock gates. Green indicates it is safe to use, orange means take care and red indicates it is too dangerous to use the lock.

When the canal was first built and used commercially boats were more likely to use the lock in times of high river water. These days the lock gates are usually locked shut when the water level rises to prevent accidents.

This lock is near to Shepley Marina which has a number of facilities for boats including a dry dock. At one time the marina was used by commercially operated boats including one that operated on the Aire and Calder Navigation which is connected at Wakefield to the east of here. The River Aire gave access to the east coast nad larger boats operate on the Aire and Calder Navigation.

In order to handle the longer boats from the Aire and Calder and to give them access to the dry dock, this lock is longer than the standard size locks of the Aire and Calder Navigation to the west. This marina was the limit of navigation for these larger boats.

The lock is a grade II English Heritage Listed Building. link The listing tells us that the lock was a double lock and had 3 pairs of lock gates. It was a double lock in the sense that because it was longer than normal it could either be used as a large long chamber or a normal sized chamber.

If a normal sized boat used the lock then the normal gates were used to save water. However if a long boat from the Aire and Calder used the lock or more than 1 ordinary boat wanted to use the lock then the middle gates would be left open and the gates at each end of the chamber would be used to operate the lock.

These days the bottom lock gates have been removed and the recess in the lock chamber wall permanently filled in. It can only now be used by the smaller size boats from the Calder and Hebble Navigation.

Like all the normal locks on this canal it is 14 feet wide and is wide enough to take 2 narrow boats side by side. In addition although the lock is only 57 and ½ feet long it can accommodate narrow boats of up to 60 feet if they enter the lock diagonally and with extreme care. Although they are wide most of the locks on this canal are quite shallow and at only 3 metres the rise is not very high.

Each end of the lock has a double pair of gates. On this canal all the lock gates have paddles built into them to let water in or out of the lock and in some cases there are also paddles on the canal side.

Each set of gates has wooden platforms to stand on when operating the gate paddles. In the case of the top gates the platforms stretch the full length of the gate to give access to both sides of the canal.

On many locks there are warning signs about making sure the boat does not get caught on the cill. It's not always obvious what this means, but basically the wooden lock top gates do not go to the bottom of the lock but sit on a stone base. When the lock is full and a boat is going down, the cill is not visible. This means that when the water is released from the lock it is possible for the boat to get caught on the cill.

When the lock is empty it is much easier to understand how this works. When I took the pictures of this lock the top chamber was empty and the cill was visible.
Waterway Name: Calder and Hebble Navigation

Connected Points:
Connects the Rochdale Canal at Sowerby Bridge with the Aire and Calder Navigation at Wakefield. There was also a branch of the canal at Salterhebble that used to go to Halifax but this was closed in 1942. There is also a junction with the Huddersfield Broad canal at Cooper Bridge that goes to Huddersfield.


Type: Lock

Date Opened: 1/1/1770

Elevation Difference (meters): 3.00

Site Status: Operational

Web Site: [Web Link]

Date Closed (if applicable): Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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