On Saturday, 15th October 2005, a new pair of decorative gates leading on to the towpath of the Leeds ands Liverpool canal was officially opened, at Norden Bridge. These had been erected to replace the standard British Waterways "5 bar" type gates.
The gate had been designed by Mike and Gill Studios, with the design ideas coming from year 7 pupils in Norden High School, who had drawn various ideas, and were combined into one design image by the Rishton Prospects Panel to achieve the finished article. Certificates had been presented to all the pupils from the school who had put in a design idea, and Thomas Moore and Chelsea Smith, whose ideas had most significantly been incorporated into the final design, had been presented with Artist Materials. These were the two who officially opened the gate.
‘A plaque on one of the gates summarises all those who were involved in the creation of the gates as follows :
“These gates were designed by Mike and Gill Studios based on original ideas from pupils of Norden High School and Sports College.
Funded by : The Big Lottery, Lancashire Environmental Fund, Lancashire County Council, the North West Development Agency and Hyndburn Borough Council.
A PROSPECTS Foundation & Rishton PROSPECTS Panel Project.
Manufactured by MW Graphics of Great Harwood.”
M. W. Graphics, of Great Harwood, had also made the gate at High Street canal Bridge, the Jubilee Gate, which had been unveiled in May 2002, and had been greatly admired by many since.
Thomas and Chelsea carried out the official opening by cutting a ribbon. This was followed by a five mile walk along the canal towpath to Clayton-le-Moors via Church and Oswaldtwistle to view the various items of work completed as part of the PROSPECTS Foundation’s Canal Improvement Scheme. In Rishton, as well as the new gates, this included a fishing platform for the disabled, two viewing points with seats and information boards and a double litter bin made out of recycled plastic at Hermitage Street bridge to service boats tying up at the 48 hour mooring. Still to be created was a picnic area and improved access on to the towpath at Spring Street bridge. This was to include ‘kissing’ gates to inhibit motor cycles getting on to the towpath.
All the items of work included in the Improvement Scheme had come from ideas put forward by the four PROSPECTS Panels whose areas the canal went through. These were brought to fruition over a three year period largely through the efforts of Mike Stapleford, the Foundation’s Community Projects Manager, working with the Panels. They included Improvements to the towpath surface in places, renovating dry stone walling, new seats, new canal boat moorings, a magnificent mural on a canal side concrete factory fence, other gateways, community notice boards and ‘welcome to’ signs. Altogether, these represented an investment in excess of £200,000.
The walk was completed in Clayton Le Moors, were the canal works were declared open by the Mayor of Hyndburn, Councillor Janet Storey, on the canal tow path, and this was followed with a presentation, displays of the work, and a buffet.
Around 50 people were in attendance for the opening, and for much of the walk. A local history brief was also given, upon the request of the Prospects panel, through Rishton, by the author of this website, as well as a thorough talk along the route of the flora and fauna found along the canal side, by John Lamb of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Steve Taylor of Gawthorpe Environmental (GEM).
Colin Cooper, Secretary Rishton Prospects Panel.