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The Club’s first meeting of 2020 was on 9th January. The meeting started on a sad note, with tributes to two valued members of the Club, Michael Harrison and Rob Smallwood, who had died during the Christmas period. Michael had made a particularly notable contribution to the club by setting up a monthly Discussion Group which he ran for over 10 years.

After the usual brief session to review future activities the members enjoyed a fully illustrated talk on the Anderton Boat Lift by an external speaker, Dave Thomas, of the Canal and River Trust. The Boat Lift opened in 1875 and enabled barges to move directly between the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Weaver Navigation, cutting out the manual transhipment of salt and other goods. Dave described the Lift mechanisms, the changes in working methods, the corrosion which led to its closure in 1983 and the successful efforts to get it refurbished. It reopened in 2002. It is a scheduled monument and is included in the National Heritage List for England. The restoration was enabled by individual donations and by a Heritage Lottery Grant of 3.3 million pounds. Ongoing operation depends on donations and on the work of volunteers, since passage is free to canal boats.

January activities by Club members have included a five mile walk in Chester, including the walls, the Cathedral and Queen’s Park. There was also an evening meeting of the Discussion Group and its annual dinner at the Dun Cow. The Club meeting on 23rd January will have a talk on “Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral” by an external speaker, Philip Harrison. There will also be two 5-mile walks, an indoor bowling session at Weaverham and the annual afternoon tea, which will be held this year at Knutsford Golf Club.