Historical Information

The Rochdale Canal was the first of three canals to be built across the Pennines and was opened in 1804.  It was a busy commercial route during the nineteenth century but traffic declined during the First World War.  In 1952, the majority of the canal was closed to navigation.  Restoration was promoted by IWA from the early 1970s and with the founding of Rochdale Canal Society.  After many years of long campaigning, the Rochdale Canal was the first major waterway restoration to receive a Millennium Lottery grant and this was matched by funding from English Partnerships (the government’s then economic development division) in recognition of the social and economic benefits the restored canal would offer.  The devolution of English Partnerships’ responsibilities to the Regional Development Agencies presented funding difficulties but The Waterways Trust took over ownership of the Rochdale Canal Company (which owned the canal) and brought funding arrangements to fruition.  British Waterways was appointed to carry out the work and operate the waterway.