A HISTORIC dock on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is set to be brought back into use for the first time in 43 years.

Burnley’s Bank Hall Dry Dock, once owned by the nearby colliery of the same name, was one of the most important working docks in the North West at the height of the coal and textile era.

It closed in 1971 but has now been restored by two semi-retired couples who have launched their own business painting and repairing canal boats on the site.

Les and Angela White, Brian Denison and Jane Garnett have set up Feather and Gaskell, which they hope will ‘bring the derelict site back to life’ when it officially opens in the autumn.

Mr White said: “The dry dock at Bank Hall had been in a very sad state and had declined into serious disrepair over many years. The dock was actually being used as a dumping ground and was full of rubbish; you wouldn’t really have known it was there.

“After months of blood, sweat and tears, and personal financial investment, we have lovingly restored the dry dock brick by brick, cobble by cobble. We recycled cobbles and bricks from the local area, including some of the bricks from the former Barden Mill.

“We’ve had support and advice on restoring the dock from the engineers at the Canal and River Trust, who are delighted with our restoration works.

“It has been a real labour of love. We’ve all had a passion for canal boats for many years and have our own boats. It was a wonderful sight to fill the dock for the first time and to steer in a barge to repair for the first time.”

Mr Denison said he hoped the dock, also known as Birley’s Dock, would benefit from the rise in canal boats’ popularity following the expansion of Reedley Marina.

He said: “The nearest dry docks for the paint and repair of barges are a four-day sail away in either direction, Skipton and Wigan, so it would take almost two weeks to get a boat serviced.”

“Now we can serve the local marina and East Lancashire area in a much shorter time. We’ve already got a list of boats waiting to be serviced and painted.”

“We are really proud of our achievement and feel we have created a legacy for future boat users and for Burnley.”