The Rochdale Canal, the first to open and most successful of the three trans-Pennine canals, was built two hundred years ago. Trade boomed on the canal until the beginning of the twentieth century when the development of motor transport had a dramatic effect on the canal's importance as a trade route. By the Second World War, the canal was scarcely used. It was formally abandoned in 1952, and parts were filled in as bridges were lowered and major roads built across the canal. In 1974, the Rochdale Canal Society was formed to promote restoration of the canal. Local authority support was gained and the flow process of restoration began, culminating, after a long search for funding, with the canal being completely reopened from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge in 2002. "Pennine Pioneer - the Story of the Rochdale Canal" follows the life of the canal from its inception in the eighteenth century to its abandonment, and tells of the more recent battle for its restoration. Keith Gibson is the president of the Northern Canals Association, where waterway restoration societies north of Birmingham meet to discuss progress.
This, his second book in the Pennine canals, relates the tale of the Rochdale Canal's past while also looking to its future.