VISITORS will be able to see a new side to Northwich’s ‘cathedral of the canals’ on Sunday.

Anderton Boat Lift will be open from 11am to 4pm to give people a unique chance to see the workings and maintenance of the lift while sections of canal basin are drained.

Wendy Capelle, North Wales and Border Waterway manager, said: “The basin is rarely drained so this provides a great opportunity to see what lies under the water and to view at close quarters the age old process of damming off a section of canal to allow engineering works to take place.   “So why not pay a visit and see what secrets from yesteryear may be exposed for all to see?”

The open day is one of a national £50 million makeover of historic locks, bridges and aqueducts across the UK including the replacement of more than 100 hand-crafted oak lock gates.

The work on Anderton Boat Lift will include draining the upper canal basin in front of the lift to install replacement timber fenders, which help to protect the walls from damage by boats entering and leaving the basin area.

Engineers will also be repairing damaged stop plank grooves at the entrance to the basin, which are large sections of wood slotted into grooves in the canal wall to form a temporary barrier.

The operations centre will be open on the day for visitors to look around the exhibition and volunteer coordinators will be on hand to talk about the volunteering opportunities in the area.

British Waterways’ winter programme is part of the vital maintenance carried out throughout the year to keep the network in working order.  The open days will provide a unique opportunity to take a closer look at the hidden workings of the waterways as the water is drained away, and to see the massive task required to keep the canals shipshape.

Vince Moran, British Waterways’ operations director, said: “I hope opening up some of our lock gate replacements and other repairs will give people in Cheshire a chance to see the scale of the work we do to ensure that the waterways are preserved for today’s users and future generations, as well as gain an appreciation for the magnificent industrial heritage in our care.”