A CHARITY has secured more than half a million pounds funding to repair an internationally important visitor attraction after it closed amid safety concerns.

The Canal & River Trust (C&RT) has been awarded a £574,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a major repair and refurbishment project at Anderton Boat Lift, Cheshire’s ‘Cathedral of Canals’, near Northwich.

The Scheduled Historic Monument, which each year carries around 3,000 boats between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the River Weaver Navigation, closed in early August following concerns about its safety.

This funding will allow C&RT to carry out essential repairs to the Victorian boat lift to secure its long-term future, though some of the money will be used to prepare a detailed plan to update the popular visitor centre and extend a community outreach programme.

Northwich Guardian: The historic structure carries around 3,000 boats each year (Canal and River Trust)The historic structure carries around 3,000 boats each year (Canal and River Trust) (Image: Canal and River Trust)

Daniel Greenhalgh, Canal & River Trust North West director, said: “We are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for allowing us to take a first vital step in securing the future of this unique boat lift, one of the seven wonders of the waterways.

“Since the Anderton Boat Lift reopened as a major visitor attraction in 2002, it has become a firm favourite on the tourist trail, as well as bringing a significant boost for the local economy.

“The essential repair and upgrade work is critically important to maintaining the lift as an operational structure.”

Over the next 14 months, CR&T will be developing a comprehensive plan for ‘Engineering the Future’, which will includes applying for more funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the entire £13.4 million project.

If the bid is successful, the plan will be to start an 18-month programme of works at the end of the 2024 boating season.

Daniel added: “Constructed in 1875, it holds a unique place in waterway history as the world’s first commercially-operated boat lift and our mission is to ensure that it continues to delight and engage future generations.”