The Harry Arnold Archive - The Closure Years

Harry Arnold MBE, Vice president of the Inland Waterways Association and former editor of the Association's Members' Journal "Waterways", is a native of Warrington, and has relatives living near the Sankey Canal.


Trade on the Sankey ceased in 1959, when the sugar boats stopped running from Liverpool to the Earlestown Sankey Sugar Works. The Canal was formally closed in 1963. Harry took most of the photographs featured here during this period.Harry has kindly allowed SCARS to use these images from his collection.


His articles appear in a wide range of waterways publications, and his archive is extensive and valuable.


Images © Harry Arnold


For further details, or for copies of  photographs, Harry can be contacted at


Please click on the individual image for further notes.


Eustace Carey at Widnes

Much later than the rest of the images here, this view of the EUSTACE CAREY dates from May 1984. A number of old Mersey Flats were beached on the outer shore of Spike Island, Widnes, among them the boat used the basis of the SCARS' logo.
Launched on the Canal at Clare & Ridgeway's Sankey Bridges boatyard in 1905 for the United Alkali Company, it was a two-masted sea-going flat.
Widnes river locks

The Woodend Locks at Widnes date from the 1830 extension of the Sankey from Fiddlers Ferry. This view shows that in February 1962 the locks were intact, and the keeper's cottages and bothy were still standing.
After subsequent years of neglect, the right-hand lock is now back in service, but the top of the left-hand one has been turned into a launching ramp for trailboats.
Spike Island Bridge

Steam locomotive 78035 draws a goods train over the swing bridge from Spike Island in February 1962. The new suspension bridge between Widnes and Runcorn may be seen, dimly, in the background, right.
Steam at Fiddlers Ferry 1

Locomotive 42921 (?) draws a mixed goods train from Garston past the site of the later Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. June 1961.
Steam at Fiddlers Ferry 2

The locomotive seen in the distance in the previous view passes the swing bridge approach. The buildings on the right are part of the Sheep Dip Works (Hobson Archive), with concrete additions dating from the time when the site was used by the Concrete Seacraft Company.
Marsh Lane Bridge

A tractor and trailer cross the swing bridge west of Fiddlers Ferry, January 1964. A train may be seen approaching under the pipe bridge to the east.
Steam at Fiddlers Ferry 3

A coal train passes opposite Fiddlers Ferry lock in January 1964. At that time the buildings at the site of the station (opened 1856, closed 1950) are much as they were in 1901 (see the Hobson Archive). It may be noticed that the signalling system has been changed - separate posts have been installed for each line, and the signals are raised upwards for safe.
Fiddlers Ferry Station bridge

The swing bridge at the end of Station Road, leading to the Ferry Inn, with the station buildings and signal box on the right.
Hey Lock 1961

Hey Lock in October 1961. The keeper's cottage has disappeared, and only a rough timber screen remains to shelter him from the wind. In the distance, extreme right, may be seen the water tower of the famous Vulcan Locomotive Works. Is the Vespa scooter by the lock Harry Arnold's?
Bradley Lock 1962

After the official closure of the Sankey beyond Earlestown in 1931, Bradley Lock was the last working lock on the canal until its closure. Photographed in October 1962, just months before the Abandonment, evidence of lack of maintenance is apparent.
Abandoned Flats 1961

Wooden flats often sprung leaks and became unserviceable. In October 1961 a line of them was photographed between the Sankey Viaduct and Newton Common Lock. Harry, fortunately, noted their names, carved into their sterns - from nearest to camera: HERBERT, Winwick; QUEEN, Sankey; PRINCE ALBERT, Winwick, and JOHN, registry not clear.
Old Double Locks

The Sankey Canal can boast the first set of staircase, or double locks in England, at Parr. Known as the "Old Double Locks", by October 1961 they had suffered the indignity of being partially dismantled, and a sewerage pipe had been inserted across the top of the lower chamber. The railway swing bridge, with its capstan still evident, illustrates the accommodation which the railways had to make each time they crossed the Sankey Canal.
New Double Locks 1

After the Old came the New - the second set of Double Locks on the Canal, at Finger Post. Constructed for the extension to Ravenhead, opened in 1757, they fell into disrepair after the 1931 Abandonment of this section. The cottage was occupied until the 1960's, but demolished a decade later after vandalism.
New Double Locks 2

Rubbish accumulated in the chambers over the years. After SCARS was founded in 1985 the Double Locks were seized upon as an opportunity for restoration to be demonstrated. SCARS began with buckets and shovels; the IWA's Waterway Recovery Group took it up with barrow hoists and gangs of volunteers; and St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council finished the job with JCB's and mechanical lifts. The locks were regated, and are ready to play their part in a restored navigation
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