The Anderton Boat Lift

My life in tickets

It was around Easter 1975(April 4th to be precise) that we – a group of canal boat hirers – made a trip on the Anderton Boat Lift.

Of course, I have the ticket.


As the ticket invites us to ‘PTO’ we’d better do it.


This massive structure was designed to lift boats up from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal, some 50 feet above it. Of course, it lowered boats safely down as well. The lift is sited near Northwich in Cheshire.

Looking at the current web site, I see there have been three incarnations of the lift with the most recent in 2001. What we travelled on was essentially the 1908 version. I have taken this information from the lift’s web site at .

1908 Structure

• The addition of the machinery deck brought the overall height to approximately 80ft

• The addition of the A-Frames to support the machinery deck brought the width at the bottom of the Lift to 75ft

• Each tank was  counterbalanced by 252 tonnes of cast iron counterweights attached by wire ropes

• There were 36 stacks of counterweights on each side of the Lift, each weighing 7 tonnes There were a total of 72 geared pulley wheels on the Lift

• The largest of the geared pulley wheels which take the lifting and safety ropes weigh 3.5 tonnes. There are 8 of these on each side, a total of 16

• There are a further 20 geared pulley wheels taking 2 lifting ropes each, and 36 geared pulley wheels with one lifting rope each

• The shafts bearing the pulleys are 8 inches in diameter

• The pulley pedestals weigh between 193 and 466lbs each

You’ll get the idea. It was massive and still is. The boat – up to 70 feet long is lifted in a tank of water. It’s a mammoth lift.

We had the benefit of fine weather on the day we used it – and here we see our boat entering the lift. I’m going to guess it was Brian on the tiller.


The boat we had was not the full 70 feet long. It was probably about 50. It was called Halton Castle and we had hired it from a company at Preston Brook.


Our boat is on the way up and another is now awaiting its turn.

It’s a magnificent experience. Take the chance to use it if you can. It isn’t all that expensive to take a trip on the lift combined with a river ride.

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