Lydiate – Our canal towpath

I don’t cycle the towpath of Leeds Liverpool Canal through Sefton and West Lancashire often for two reasons. It’s narrow and rough to ride on and the narrowness means I need to stop frequently to let pedestrians pass. However, the other day I decided to cycle the section from Greens Lane swing bridge in Downholland through to Bells Lane swing bridge in Lydiate.

The ride was pretty much as I expected i.e. only really suitable for mountain bikes due to its rough and uneven nature. I would add that as the weather had been dry for quite some time I didn’t encounter any of the usual boggy areas that can, during winter months, make the towpath all but impassable in places north of Lydiate Hill Bridge/Billy’s Bridge.

Joining at Greens Lane the swing bridge was just closing as I got to it from the Aughton direction:_

Greens Lane swing bridge

You arrive in Lydiate on the towpath when you cross Sudell Brook (it forms the Lancashire/Merseyside & Lydiate/Downholland boundary) which flows under the canal just north of Jackson’s Bridge where Pygons Hill Ln/Hall Ln cross the canal. This is the view from atop Jackson’s Bridge looking northwards towards the Lancashire boundary. This section of the towpath is reasonable, in dry weather:-

Looking north from Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath southwards from Jackson’s Bridge, past Lollies Bridge, Pilling Lane Bridge, and through to Bells Lane swing bridge is variable but mainly poor especially if the weather has been wet.

This is where the ong-term collapse of the towpath into the canal has been diverted past – Between Billy’s Bridge and Lollies Bridge.

The repairs required to the collapsed section of towpath were, when I last asked the Canal & River Trust, due to take place during the 2021/2022 financial year i.e. any time soon but I don’t have an update on those works.

One of the problems with the same section of towpath between these two bridges is that the land abutting the towpath is higher and there’s a continual run-off of groundwater across it. This photo illustrates the problem but after weeks of virtually no rain. It’s not hard to imagine how the situation deteriorates after heavy rain or through the winter:-

Finally a nice view of Pilling Lane bridge with a narrowboat traveling towards the camera:-

The Maghull/Lydiate boundary is roughly halfway between the Bells Lane swing bridge and the Green Lane swing bridge. It is this section of towpath that is down to be resurfaced with the Canal & River Trust gaining the money to do it via the new Rose Hill Gardens housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road. The new houses are all in Lydiate, not Maghull. I still have no news as to whether the Canal & River Trust is prepared to use some of this money to address worse sections of the towpath through Lydiate.

Lydiate – The state of our LLC towpath

Towpath north of Jackson’s Bridge

The towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal through Lydiate leaves a lot to be desired; a subject I’ve blogged about before I might add. Here’s a couple of links back to previous postings in October 2015 and June 2019 :-

October 2015 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/22/lydiate-leeds-liverpool-canal-bank-collapse/

June 2019 – tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/29/lydiate-improvemnets-to-tow-path-flow-from-controversial-house-building-site/

The worst section of towpath is probably that which is north of Lollies Bridge (Southport Road Bridge) up to and past Lydiate Hill Bridge (also known as Billy’s Bridge) where the land and fields adjacent to it is higher. This causes water run-off onto the towpath with muddy almost impassable conditions at times especially after heavy periods of rain.

Lollies Bridge

View from Billy’s Bridge looking back towards Lollies Bridge.

Canal bank collapse just south of Lydiate Hill Bridge – Photo 2015

Ok, now to try to put all this in context of what Lydiate Parish Council is trying to do in 2021. If you’ve read the links above you’ll know that some planning gain money (otherwise known as Section 106 money) from the housing development at the end of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road (the new estate is known as Rosehill Gardens) has been allocated to the Canal & River Trust to upgrade the towpath along the section of it which is adjacent to the new housing i.e. the Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate section. The money amounts to £67,000 I understand. These works are yet to be undertaken I might add.

The recent intervention by Lydiate Parish Council has been along the lines of saying to the C&RT that whilst money to upgrade the towpath is obviously welcome there are actually worse parts, far worse parts, of the towpath through Lydiate which could do with attention and can we discuss how this can be achieved either using the S106 money or other funding sources. The response of the C&RT has been that the S106 money can only be spent on the defined section of canal towpath as detailed in the planning permission.

The Trust do however acknowledge though that the towpath elsewhere through Lydiate Parish Council’s area is in poor condition and that it can become impassable during inclement weather. They also say they’d be happy to work with the Parish Council to help identify improvements and priorities for the canal in such locations.

As readers may know the C&RT is a charity (similar to the National Trust – I’m a member of both I might add) and it is reliant on securing funding via developments (such as Rosehill Gardens) to try to improve the condition of the towpath surface or through bidding for funding via local and national schemes and initiatives. They seem to be happy to work with LPC to try to improve the canal towpath but clearly this means significant extra resources will need to be identified. At a very rough back of a fag packet type guess I’m thinking that to do up the whole of the towpath through Lydiate Parish could involve say £250,000+ and presently there’s just £67,000 in the pot for one already defined section of it, which is partly in Maghull.

There’s some good news however as the canal bank collapse (pictured above in 2015) is, we are told by the Trust, scheduled to be repaired in the next financial year – 2021/2022 assuming scarce maintenance resources do not have to be redirected to more urgent works.

The Parish Council is going to discuss the matter again at its February Zoom meeting to see if ways forward can be identified with regard to the bad sections of towpath.

I’ll update further as things hopefully develop…….

And a look back to the days when pedestrians and cyclists were unwelcome on our canal towpath – notice as seen at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

Lydiate – The Anchor – Seeing it through 1886 eyes

Iv’e blogged before about Lydiate’s lost alehouse – The Anchor – which was located on the Leeds Liverpool canalbank between Lydiate Hill/Billy’s Bridge and Jacksons Bridge. The property, whilst still standing, is private housing now.

Here’s a link to my previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/23/lydiates-lost-pub-the-anchor-inn-or-arms/

The reason for returning to this subject again is because removal of the rendering on part of the building has revealed what the pub used to look like. In the words of the chairman of Lydiate Parish Council:-

‘The brickwork was decorative with red whole bricks alternating with darker half bricks. There is also a band of yellow bricks running across the building and around the windows. It must have been an impressive sight when built c1868.’

Here are some photographs of the building after removal of the rendering but before it is recovered:-

My thanks to Cllr. John Bailey for the lead to this posting

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Lydiate – Accessing (or not) the Leeds Liverpool Canal from Southport Rd/Lollies Bridge

Steps could be erected here but cost and land ownership issues will be factors.

It was recently suggested to me that there should be pedestrian access/steps down from Lollies Bridge on Southport Road to the Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path.

Presently the only access to the canal is on the opposite side to the tow path along a footpath that enables you to join the tow path at Lydiate Hill bridge (otherwise known as Billy’s Bridge), the next bridge north of Lollies Bridge.

The photo above is taken from the footpath which runs along the opposite bank to the tow path looking south towards Lollies Bridge and Southport Road. The problem being that to walk northwards along the canal is quite easy as you join the tow path at Lydiate Hill Bridge. However, if you want to walk southwards (towards Maghull) along the canal from Lollies Bridge you first have to walk north, along the parallel footpath, to Lydiate Hill Bridge then back again along the tow path. The only alternative is to join the tow path at Pilling Lane bridge which is the next bridge/access south of Lollies Bridge.

I raised this issue not so long ago at a Sefton Rights of Way Liaison Group meeting and was advised to contact a specific Sefton Council officer who holds regular meetings with the Canal & River Trust. This I have done with the help of the Clerk to Lydiate Parish Council. What will happen from here is presently unknown. Whether it is possible to build steps at Lollies Bridge I do not know. Clearly, land ownership and the cost of such works will be significant factors but the pebble has been thrown into the Canal & River Trust’s pond (or is that canal?) and we will see if progress is possible in due course.

Lydiate – Its Listed Buildings

I recently came across a list provided by Lydiate Parish Council detailing the Listed Buildings within the Civil Parish and thought it worthy of sharing.

All the listings are grade II with the last two below being grade II*. The date after the grading is when the building was actually listed. I’ve added photos where I have them in my collection.

Barn to Lydiate House Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Barn and former stable – lintel inscribed 1611

Carriage House at Lydiate House Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Carriage house – probably early 18th century

Church House Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Farmhouse – 17th century

Church of Our Lady Southport Road II 17-01-1986 Catholic church – 1854/5

Church of St Thomas Church Lane II 11-10-1968 Church – 1839/41

St. Thomas Church

Church View Cottages Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Two houses – 17th century

Cross (approx 10m north of Church of Our Lady) Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Cross – upper part medieval, lower part a 19th century restoration

Lydiate Bridge Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Bridge over canal – c.1770

Looking through Pilling Lane canal bridge at boats moored outside Mersey Motor Boat Club.

Lydiate Hill Bridge Approx 40m from Southport Road II 17-01-1986 Bridge over canal – c.1770

Lydiate Hill (also known as Billy’s Bridge) Bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Meadow View Farmhouse Pilling Lane II 17-01-1986 Farmhouse – datestone inscribed 1753

Remains of Lydiate Hall Southport Road II 11-10-1968 Remains of Hall – 15th & 16th century, with 19th century additions

Rose Hill Pygon’s Hill Lane II 17-01-1986 House – 18th century

Scotch Piper Public House Southport Road II* 11-10-1968 Public house – said to date from 1320 but probably 16th century

The Scotch Piper. Recently re-thatched after a serious fire.

St Katherine’s Chapel (Lydiate Abbey) Southport Road II* 11-10-1968 Ruined chapel – late 15th or early 16th century

St Catherine’s also known as Lydiate Abbey

I hope this posting helps fill in some gaps about Lydiate’s history, I know it has filled in some of my own.

Lydiate’s Lost Pub – The Anchor Inn or Arms

Do you know where Lydiate’s lost pub was situated or when it closed?

This is the present day site:-

the-anchor-pub-was-here

It’s between Jackson’s Bridge and Billy’s Bridge alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

And here’s another view looking in the direction of Jackson’s Bridge which carries Pygons Hill Lane over the canal:-

wheres-the-anchor-pub-gone

In fact the Anchor Inn or Arms, which was probably built in the 1860’s, disappeared a long time ago being closed, I understand, by the Magistrates Court in the early part of the last century. Robert Alty was described as Boatman and Beer House proprietor in the 1881 census.

The building is now part of a small group of isolated houses/cottages.

The second photo is also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

PS. If anyone can fill in the blanks about the history of this lost pub I would love to hear about it.