Millennium Mark A MILLENNIUM PROJECT Supported by funds from the National Lottery
The Ribble Link Trust Ltd.

First Anniversary Cruise

British Waterways are organising a celebration to mark the first anniversary of the completion of the Millennium Ribble Link.

It is to take place on 11 - 13th of July 2003 in Preston Riversway.

The entrance fee will be £15 per boat. If you would like an entry form or more information please contact Terry Tomlinson, Fouracres Road, Newall Green, Withenshaw, MANCHESTER, M23 1ER Tel 0161 9982170

Millennium Ribble Link Opening Ceremony

The UK's first new navigation for a century - the Millennium Ribble Link - was officially opened on Friday 20 September 2002 by the Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Spectators line the fence over the new junction bridge.
The new four-mile waterway connects the landlocked Lancaster Canal to the rest of Britain's 2,000-mile canal network, so that boats can now cruise from London to Lancaster for the first time ever. With plans to restore the Lancaster Canal north to Kendal already advanced, boaters will one day be able to cruise from southern England to the Lake District, bringing increased tourism, new jobs and an enhanced environment to millions more in the north west of England.

Ashanti Gold turns into the basin from the Lancaster Canal.

Margaret Beckett arrived at the new Millennium Ribble Link basin on board the Lancaster Canal trip boat Ashanti Gold.

Also on the boat were:
George Greener, Chairman, British Waterways
David Fletcher, Chief Executive, British Waterways
Robin Evans, Commercial Director, British Waterways
Jan Griffiths, British Waterways, North West Region
Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive, The Waterways Trust

The Mayor and Mayoress of Preston aboard Marie Celeste in lock 1 with the sculpture, Water, in the background.

Marie Celeste enters the basin from lock 1.

The narrow boat Marie Celeste belonging to Ken and Sue Hudson, emerged from the Millennium Ribble Link and moored in the basin just before Ashanti Gold arrived. Councillor Ken Hudson is a long standing member of the Ribble Link Trust and is a former mayor of Preston. The current Mayor of Preston, Councillor Jonathan Saksena, and the Mayoress were on board the Hudson's boat. The arrival of the two boats signifies the joining of the Lancaster Canal to the Millennium Ribble Link.

The Secretary of State disembarked and was met by:
David Baldacchino, British Waterways Project Manager for the Millennium Ribble Link project.
Judith Donovan, Commissioner, Millennium Commission
Cliff Fazackerley, Chairman of Ribble Link Trust
Antony Goldstone, Chair, Lancashire Tourism Partnership
Councillor Ken Hudson, Preston Council/Ribble Link Trust
Rt. Hon Michael Jack MP (Fylde)
Councillor Niki Penny, Chair, Lancashire County Council
Mike Robinson, Area Manager, MJ Gleeson Group
Councillor Jonathan Saksena, the Mayor of Preston

George Greener assists Mrs Beckett to disembark from Ashanti Gold.

The Lancaster Canal Manager, Debbie Lumb, formally invited Mrs Beckett to unveil the specially commissioned Millennium Ribble Link Waymarker to mark the official opening of the Millennium Ribble Link.

Mrs Beckett unveils the Millennium Ribble Link Waymarker.

Created by Huddersfield artist, Lynne Chambers, the waymarker is a cast bronze and stainless steel representation of the Ribble Link, depicting the course of the new canal and its links to the River Ribble and the Lancaster Canal. The images in the bronze represent some of the uses of the canal such as fishing, bird watching, boating and cycling. The reeds and rushes are references to the reed beds which are being planted to prevent erosion of the canal banks as well as providing habitat for wildlife. The shape of the piece is a reference to waves and water, also showing the linear nature of the Link.

Mrs Beckett admires the Waymarker.

A close-up of the Waymarker.

I don't often wear a suit nowadays so I thought I'd include this one of me!

Guests then proceeded to the marquee for a series of short speeches.

Welcoming Margaret Beckett, British Waterways Chairman, George Greener, said, "This new waterway is a tribute to all the dedicated people who have worked so hard over many years to realise their long-held dream, a waterway to connect London to the Lakes. Over the past decade, we have seen how waterway regeneration projects have attracted over £2 billion of investment, supporting some 20,000 jobs. I am delighted that the urban and rural communities living around this new waterway will benefit from a wonderful new navigation."

Mr. George Greener during his welcome address.

He then introduced speeches from:
The Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett MP, Secretary of State for Environment Food & Rural Affairs
Councillor Jonathan Saksena, the Mayor of Preston
Judith Donovan, Millennium Commissioner
Antony Goldstone, Chairman of the Lancashire Tourism Partnership

The £6million Millennium Ribble Link project is a partnership scheme made possible by the commitment and financial support of The Millennium Commission which contributed £2. 7 million, Lancashire County Council, the Ribble Link Trust, The Waterways Trust - the national charity that helped secure the funding and British Waterways.

Construction took some two years to complete and involved:

  • constructing a mile of new canal channel
  • building nine new locks, including a 3-lock staircase flight
  • widening two miles of the Savick Brook to make it navigable
  • protecting over two and a half miles of bankside from erosion
  • providing new habitats for local and migratory wildlife
  • building two miles of new footpaths and cycleways
  • constructing four new bridges, and
  • installing an Art Trail, created by Lancashire artist Thompson Dagnall.

The result is an impressive linear water park for the people of Lancashire, sited in one of the UK's newest cities, and a protected environment for local wildlife in a densely populated area, as well as an important new link in the inland waterway network.

Millennium Ribble Link Sculpture Trail

The Millennium Ribble Link is not only about boats. A new art trail and linear water park are key features of the project.

Local residents and visitors will now be able to enjoy 3.5 km of new footpaths and cycleways alongside the picturesque setting of the new waterway. Along the route they will come across four spectacular sculptures, created by Lancashire artist Thompson Dagnall.

An imposing 15 feet naked man, titled Water marks the start of the sculpture trail: Gauging the Ripple which is based on a theme of earth, air, fire and water.

The giant male figure stands at the top of a three lock staircase, the head of the navigation, staring into the water, 'gauging the ripple', as if assessing the height of the water in the locks and the tidal window for crossing the Ribble. The Ripple as well as describing the surfaces of the water and alluding to its expanding influence, is also thought to be the original name for the River Ribble.

The other three sculptures are based on:

fire - a block of coal with carved fossilised ferns.

air - an arch of interlocking forked trees positioned over the path.

earth - a series of large footprints pointing towards the other sculptures as if the giant man had passed that way.

The trail was launched by Sir Peter Soulsby, British Waterways Vice Chairman, at a special ceremony on 9th July. He said: "Constructing the Millennium Ribble Link is not just about creating a new facility for boaters. One of its key objectives has always been to provide new leisure and environmental opportunities for the local community. New waterside footpaths and cycleways will offer pleasant places to walk and cycle and we hope the stunning new art trail will attract visitors from far and wide."

Ribble Link Celebration Cruise 2002

and Construction Completion Ceremony

The Directors of the Ribble Link Trust Ltd. would most sincerely like to thank:-

M.J. Gleeson Group plc, Engineering Division, BRADFORD
Ove Arup & Partners, Consulting Engineers, LEEDS

for their very generous financial sponsorship of this event.


From Monday 8th July to Thursday 11th July boats from the main canal system made their way to moorings in Preston Riversway by way of the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. They passed the new sanitary station at Rufford, made use of the extended moorings at Tarleton and noted the absence of derelict boats.

Helpers were on hand to speed their progress through the sea-lock at Tarleton onto the River Douglas. The weather improved through the week and by mid-day on Thursday the sun was shining from an almost cloudless sky.

Boats on the Lancaster Canal were also gathering in the vicinity of Haslam Park.

The Ribble Link Trust would like to acknowledge the support and generosity of the following companies for signs, prizes and their contributions to the success of this event:-
Academie Signs Best Electrical Factors Ltd (Preston) Carborundum plc
Cartmell Signs Chris Miller City Electrical Factors (Chorley)
Express Electrical (Wigan) HiTech Plastics Old Canal Smithy
Preston Marina

Thursday 11th July

On Thursday evening it was decided, in consultation with British Waterways staff, to send five boats down the Link as far as the floating moorings above lock eight. Cliff Fazackerley, on Gilly Bobs, cut a ribbon stretched across the entrance to lock 1 before beginning the descent of the three-rise staircase.

This was done so that, if anything untoward were to happen during the night or Friday morning, those five boats would be able to leave the Link and make the trip to Riversway. (Subsequent events at Riversway and on the Link itself showed the potential value of such contingency planning.)

Friday 12th July - Daytime

The second half of the flotilla of boats started to leave the holding basin at the Lancaster Canal end of the Link at 8.00am, again earlier than had been planned - just in case. They had all joined the other boats at the floating moorings above Lock 8 by about 10am. The boats made their way down through lock 8 and moored at the bank piles below Blackpool Road bridge to wait for the tide. The floating moorings above Lock 9 had not yet been installed although the piles were in place.

The tide flooded into the brook slowly at first then rose more quickly to the top of the rising-sector gate. The gate was rotated into its recess in the bottom of the brook, the traffic light turned from red to green and Gilly Bobs led the flotilla of boats through Lock 9, to a round of applause from onlookers, down the brook and onto the River Ribble.

The boats which travelled down the Link on Thursday & Friday
Gilly Bobs Bracken Marie Celeste Stress Relief
Carly Warly Kara Kalafrana Sapphire
Cobwebs Karenisa Bunbury Farthings Hook

Other boats from Riversway met the flotilla at the confluence of Savick Brook and River Ribble to escort them into Preston where they arrived to the accompaniment of a barrage of noisy fireworks launched from a British Waterways boat. The arrival of the flotilla was applauded by people on the bullnose and the north side of the entrance and was followed by a circuit of the Dock area.

There was a buffet lunch in the marquee for British Waterways invited VIP guests. There was an address by Roger Hanbury of The Waterways Trust, Bill Alexander of the Millennium Commission, Ken Hudson of Preston City Council & Cliff Fazackerley Chairman of the Ribble Link Trust to officially open the Technological Exhibition. This exhibition was open to the public from 3 - 6pm with presentations about aspects of the scheme taking place at approximately hourly intervals. These were about the Construction of the Link, Environmental aspects and the place of the Link in the History of the Lancaster Canal.

Friday 12th July - Evening 7.30pm onwards

A free hot-pot supper and musical entertainment was provided for boaters in the marquee.

At dusk there was an illuminated boat parade around Riversway. Chris Miller kindly donated prizes for the two categories, which were announced and presented on Saturday evening.

At about 11pm there was a firework display by Millennium Pyrotechnics. Those of you who have seen displays here at previous Maritime Festivals will know that they are spectacular - this one was to be even better!

A large number of the general public watched to the boat parade and firework display, but all events in the marquee during the evening were private, being for boaters and invited guests only.

A free mini-bus service made frequent journeys between Riversway, Haslam Park and the new Junction area to enable the Cruise boaters to watch boats navigating the Link for the first time and to attend the evening functions.

Saturday 13th July - Daytime

The British Waterways Exhibition was open to the general public from 12noon to 5pm in the marquee with presentations about the scheme again taking place at approximately hourly intervals.

At 1pm ten boats were to leave Riversway for the first passage up the Link but they were delayed for about half an hour by the road bridge failing to swing open. After successfully entering the Link the boats had to wait for the tide to rise and fall before they could negotiate Blackpool Road bridge and the main sewage pipe pipe.

They were due to arrive at the new junction at 4.30pm but after the delaysit was half past six when the first boats arrived. There was a short ceremony when a temporary plaque was unveiled by Cliff Fazackerley, the Chairman of the The Ribble Link Trust. This is to be replaced by a permanent version at a later date.

The boats which travelled up the Link on Saturday, Sunday & Monday
Dutchess Picaré Sovereign Cakes and Ale
Kellylee Bosworth The Buccaneer Leonora
Second Tern Sigara Wenderer Bliss
Cherié Jacaranda Amethyst Caralina
Ferris McLeod Muffin No. 3 Pumpkin Watea
James Loader Marryan Soggies Pride Elizabeth
George Chesterton Kelper Fair Fa'
Josel Whimbrel Lucy Annie Testudo II

Ruth and Bill Howard on narrowboat Sovereign, one of the boats in this group, left Godalming on the River Wey in Surrey on 14th May 2002. This point is the furthest south on the connected inland waterways and their destination was the head of navigation at Tewitfield on the Lancaster Canal, now the furthest north it is possible to reach on England's connected inland waterways.

N.B. Sovereign entered the Lancaster Canal via the Millennium Ribble Link on 13th July 2002 and was expected to arrive at Tewitfield on 17th July - the first boat ever to complete this feat. The voyage was a distance of 384 miles, passing through 211 locks on 4 rivers and 10 canals.

Saturday 13th July - Evening 7.30/8.00pm onwards

In the marquee the boaters and invited guests were entertained by Keltic Myst (AKA Perry Westlake) and an excellent buffet was served. The prizes, donated by Chris Miller, were presented to the skippers of Jacaranda, for best illuminated narrowboat and Bracken for best illuminated cruiser. There were a number of short speeches and presentations incuding that of an engraved tankard to the Chairman of the Trust, Cliff Fazackerley, in recognition of his efforts and leadership. The work of previous Chairmen was remembered along with the memory of George Nickson, a committee member, who sadly died before he could see the completed Link and whose ashes were scattered along the Link as the first boats descended from the Lancaster Canal. The current committee members were presented to the audience and were given a fine round of applause.

Keltic Myst returned for another session to round off another long day.

Sunday 14th July

Following yet another delay due to a swing bridge failure a group of boats left Riversway for the return journey to Tarleton followed by a second group of eleven boats for their passage up the Link. After entering the Link, with just one mishap, the boats, once again had to wait for the tide to rise and fall before they could make progress up the Link.

The British Waterways Exhibition was open to the general public from 12noon to 3.00pm in the marquee.

Monday 15th July

More boats left Riversway for the return journey to Tarleton.

No boat movements took place either way on the Link.

Tuesday 16th July and Wednesday 17th July

Another group of boats left Riversway for the passage up the Link.

Wednesday 17th July

British Waterways took over management of the Millennium Ribble Link - good luck!

P.S. There may still be some boats in Riversway waiting to go up the Link.

Public Exhibition

This event was held at Ashton High School, Aldwych Drive, Ashton, Preston on the evenings of 14th & 15th November 2001 to inform local residents about the progress made in building of the Millennium Ribble Link and to put forward a proposal for public art along the Link. The art works will be funded mainly by the Millennium Commission with a contribution from Preston Borough Council. The exhibition was provided by British Waterways, and The Waterways Trust.


The Wednesday evening session was very well attended. The artist Thompson Dagnall, wearing a cap, is seen in the centre of the photograph before his presentation of some previous works and explanation of his proposals for the Link.

Proposal For Public Art

by Thompson Dagnall

Gauging The Ripple


The Millennium Theme, the importance of water to the project and the Monumental nature of the Giant staircase lead me to an raw elemental feel for the sculpture trail. I decided that Each of the four pieces in the series would be coupled with either Earth Air Fire or Water.



Stood at the edge of lock 1 (the top lock of the staircase) is a fifteen foot high figure staring down into the water. Gauging the Ripple, the title for the series, refers to the contemplation, meditation, almost a prayer to the river. Gauging is also reading the signs of the water. Gauging the tidal window for crossing the Ribble, the height of water in the locks and the physical volume of water in the locks. These deliberations all describe the nature of the water's presence and power in the canal system.

The Ripple as well as describing the surfaces of the water and alluding to its expanding influence is also thought to be the original name for the River Ribble.



At lock 4 is a block of coal sat at the side of the towpath. Carved into its top bedding plane is a fossil fern sometimes found in coal. Coal and the fire it fuelled was at the very heart of the canal system's existence. The material is again stone a rough block blackened and polished with graphite to make unburnable coal.



At lock 5 is an archway, positioned over the towpath to describe and frame the space beneath it. A simple structure of two forked trees interlocking over the path suggesting the contained spaces under the tunnels and bridges of the canal system.

Ideally the timber would be reused from the site clearance or I can source local timber from windblown trees.


At lock 6 I propose a series of footprints 2½ times life size. Carved into flat slabs of stone laid into the footpath as if the figure at lock 1 had walked this way. The footprints in addition to being carved into the earth are carved from the earth as a medium. By their direction and sequence they point the way along the trail towards the other sculptures. The stone would ideally be re-used from the canal network of bridges and locks.


I have chosen materials that are natural to the site and many of them can hopefully be recycled from the site or canal network. Both timber and stone are proven materials that look good over time and often improve with age.


The large figure would be carved from a single stem of indigenous hardwood. I look for timber that has lived a long life and died a natural death. The figure would be carved to give no water traps and be coated with a deep penetrating fungicide/insecticide and a silicone water repellent. The fixings into the concrete foundation would all either be stainless or galvanised steel.


Approximately ¾ ton of stone stained and polished with graphite (Zebo) a finish I have used before and has worn well. The fronds carved in low relief.


Indigenous hardwood pinned into concrete foundation and fixed at crooks with 20mm steel fixings.


Reclaimed slabs of local gritstone in low relief set flush with towpath.


Preventing vandalism is something that I consider at the start of an idea and not at the end as a sticking plaster solution.

Community Involvement

I have considerable experience of running community projects both as sculptor in residence, eight months with Ribble Valley and two six month residencies with Lancashire County Council at Beacon Fell Country Park as well as numerous school based and community based projects chiefly for The Groundwork Trust at St Helens, Blackburn, Rossendale and Wirral. My community involved projects which always have a hands on element are invariably met with great enthusiasm by the participants.

Previous Experience

As you will see from the public commissions section of my CV I have extensive experience of public artworks. Last year I completed a stone carving at J4 M65 Commissioned by Blackburn with Darwen BC. It is a 2½ times life size figure Arte et Labore carved from a 92 ton block of millstone grit and is sited with very good visibility from the motor way. Earlier this year I finished a major project for Mersey Waste Disposal Authority, an earthwork Figure Stargazer (The subject of a half-hour Granada documentary) and a gateway feature at Bidston on the Wirral.

I also completed a commission in Portland limestone for the TUC The Tollpuddle Six sited in front of the Tollpuddle Martyrs Museum in Dorset.


At present I am working on a summit feature at Sefton Meddows Merseyside for the St Helens Groundwork Trust.

After the presentation representatives of The Ribble Link Trust and British Waterways were on hand in the exhibition room to answer questions.


So great was the public response many people had to wait in a corridor whilst a second room was hastily prepared.


Members of the audience in the overspill room study Thompson Dagnall's proposals whilst British Waterways staff conplete preparations for his second presentation.


The Thursday session of the exhibition was possibly even better attended than the previous evening. Once again the second room was pressed into use.


Both evenings were very well attended, many local people taking the opportunity to find out more about the progress of the scheme.


Would you like a photograph of your boat, car or family enlarged to A4 or A3 size and framed?
This new service has taken off well and a donation is be made to the Trust for each photograph enlarged. Photograph
Chris Gulley's boat Polar Fox at speed on the River Douglas
If you want to take advantage of this offer contact Cliff Fazackerley on 01772 433273

Tourist Information Offices

U11 Ocean Boulevard,
South Promenade.
Phone: 01253 403223

Town Hall,
Phone: 01539 25758

7, Dalton Square.
Phone: 01524 32878

Publicity Office,
Guild Hall,
Lancaster Road.
Phone: 01712 53731/54881.

Wyre B.C
Marine Hall Esplanade,
Phone: 013917 71141 Or: 01524 63448

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Last Revised: Thu 23rd January 2003

Copyright © 1997-2002 by John Clegg, Cliff Fazackerley and the Ribble Link Trust Ltd.

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