<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Plans to revive the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal in Kendal

PUBLISHED: 12:45 13 June 2011 | UPDATED: 16:27 13 January 2018

Plans to revive the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal in Kendal

Plans to revive the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal in Kendal

Plans to revive the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal could give Kendal a huge boost, as Paul Mackenzie reports Photography by John Cocks

River Kent. River Kent.

For almost 130 years the Lancaster Canal was an important artery for Kendal, bringing coal into the heart of the town. The canal’s Northern Reaches were completed in 1819 and the connection with Lancaster, Preston and Lancashire’s mining towns helped fuel Kendal’s growth but as the railways took hold and road transport improved, the canal’s importance dwindled and by the mid-20th century it was largely redundant.

In 1947 parts of the northern-most stretches of the canal were filled in. But when its bi-centenary is marked in eight years time, the canal in Kendal could once again be a vibrant and busy waterway.

The area around the canal terminus, once crowded with bustling warehouses and stores, has been earmarked for development, with plans for new housing, shops, and businesses as well a hotel and areas for events and festivals. And at the centre of the redevelopment is the restored canal.

The restoration of the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal was first mooted in the 1960s, and the calls grew louder in the 1990s when the Northern Reaches Restoration Group was formed. Now called the Canal Restoration Partnership, the group includes local councils and canal and waterway groups and is chaired by Hal Bagot of Levens Hall.

Miller Bridge over the river Kent... Miller Bridge over the river Kent...

He said: ‘I would like to revitalise Kendal and I think this canal scheme would help enormously.

‘At the moment there is a dry â ditch running into Kendal and I think water would be better, especially with boats on it. Water attracts people and they will generally pay more for housing near water. The area action plan includes hundreds of flats and houses and associated ancillary facilities. I think the sooner we can get it up and running the better.’

The scheme to create Kendal’s Canal Quarter has been delayed, largely by the recession, but members of the Restoration Partnership are now considering pressing ahead with plans to re-fill the canal from Natland to Canal Head.

‘I would like to see the canal connected from Kendal to Tewitfield, but that is looking way into the future,’ Hal said. ‘In these recessionary times, I think that will be very difficult.

Miller Bridge over the river Kent... Miller Bridge over the river Kent...

‘Re-watering that stretch of the canal would show we are progressing the scheme with some vigour but we know we have got to be realistic and that none of this is going to be easy. In these difficult times no-one has any money so it is hard to know when any of this will happen but we would like to do it as soon as we can.’

When the creation of the Canal Quarter does go ahead, near the foot of Castle Hill, it will be latest in a long line of projects to have taken place around the town.

The developments have created an eclectic mix of new and old in the shops and in the architecture, indeed Kendal-born historian David Starkey reckons the town could have rivalled York were it not for town planners’ eagerness to tear down the old and build anew.

The resultant mix of architectural styles in Kendal’s tightly packed streets, lanes and yards means even frequent visitors can spot new treasures each time they arrive.

Strickland Gate Strickland Gate

In the town centre, where buildings have been squeezed into improbably small spaces between their neighbours, the roof lines are as varied as the mix of shops. And where there are gaps in the shop fronts they invariably open out into attractive cobbled yards, many of which have Civic Society plaques explaining their previous uses.

There are also new information boards around the town centre which explain a little more of the history of the town.

Textiles played a big part in that history - the town was a centre of the wool industry and the motto on the town crest still reads ‘Wool is my bread’. And for many years shoes were part of the bread and butter of life in the town, too.

The famous K Shoes company started life in the mid-1800s when Robert Miller Somervell set up as a shoemaker in the town. His story

and the subsequent growth of the company into Kendal’s major employer is told in the heritage centre in the shopping centre which opened last year on the site of the shoe factory which closed in 2003.

Branthwaite Brow Branthwaite Brow

A nephew of Robert, TH Somervell, known as Howard, decided against joining the family firm and worked as a surgeon in India. A keen climber on the Lake District fells, he was selected to join George Mallory’s 1922 Everest expedition. Their failure to reach the summit was not for the want of good boots - Howard specially commissioned a pair from Kendal, big enough for him to wear four pairs of socks, and despite the bitter temperatures his feet survived un-frostbitten.

He returned to Everest two years later for another ultimately unsuccessful attempt on the summit, but each ascent had set a new altitude record which was not broken until Edmund Hillary reached the peak in 1953, fuelled, of course, by Kendal mintcake.

Where is it: Kendal stands on the south eastern fringe of the Lake District National Park, about six miles from junction 36 on the M6. If you have a sat nav, LA9 4PU should take you to the town centre. The railway station is close to the centre of the town on the branch line from Oxenholme to Windermere. Most rail passengers to the town must change at Oxenholme.

Where to park: There are long- and short- stay pay and display car parks around the town centre, although the long-stay get full early. Some on street parking can be found away from the centre, but look out for residents only areas.

Market Place. Market Place.

What to do: Take your walking shoes (or buy some there, there are plenty of outdoors shops). Enjoy the shops, explore the museums and galleries, then take in a show at the Brewery Arts Centre.

Where to eat: Whatever your taste, or the size of your appetite or wallet, you will find something to suit in Kendal. There is a good mix of cafes, delis and the ubiquitous Lakeland tearoom as well as pubs serving food and restaurants offering fine dining.


More from Out & About

Mon, 14:02

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Quiz Spring

Rebekka O’Grady and photographer John Cocks meet some of the new independent businesses calling Southport home

Read more
Friday, February 9, 2018

Plans for around 600 new houses to be built in pretty Wyre village

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

John Lenehan toasts the re-opening of a Lancashire engineering landmark and notes an invention to revive any walker.

Read more
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kirkby Lonsdale sits on the spot where Lancashire, Yorkshire and Westmorland meet, making it a great base to explore the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. All these walks start of within a ten mile radius of Kirkby Lonsdale, making them a perfect day trip for anyone staying close to the historic market town.

Read more
Kirkby Lonsdale
Monday, February 5, 2018

From businesses selling banjoes to bridalwear from a former New York costume designer, Colne is a town for all seasons. Mairead Mahon reports.

Read more
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lake District walks dominate the top ten of Britain’s 100 list.

Read more
Lake District Lake District Walks
Friday, January 26, 2018

Barrow was built on hard graft but there’s plenty of beauty to be found as well, as Mike Glover reports


Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Despite its bad reputation, the cuckoo has been a great and clever survivor in the wild. However, numbers have dipped since the 1970s. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates this iconic spring bird.

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Many of us are frustrated by our inability to swim well. Sarah Hill did something about it and now helps others. She spoke to Roger Borrell.

Read more
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search