Grand Western Canal Boat Lift Competition

Supported by Clarkebond, Grand Western Canal Trust has launched a boat lift competition, aimed at student and graduate engineers. The competition is part of the future restoration of the 180 year old waterway in Somerset, the first of its kind to use vertical boat lifts raising boats from the Somerset levels to its summit in mid-Devon.

The seven Great Western Canal lifts ranged up to 43ft in height and operated for 30 years until decommissioned to make way for the better known Anderton. They feature in Volume 2 of the Transactions of ICE, the earliest existing volume dating from 1838.

Designs for the competition will encourage the adoption of modern materials and energy efficient low carbon footprint mechanisms, following the footsteps of the original designer, James Green who detailed the boat lifts as water-saving devices.

Robert Hodgson, Chair of the Trust, said: "We think that this will give young engineers of different disciplines a great opportunity to collaborate in exploring the civil, structural and environmental options. The Falkirk Wheel has demonstrated what can be done. Our objective in promoting the competition is to put a fascinating bit of the UK's waterway heritage back on the map and to fire public imagination as to the possibilities for reconnecting two under-utilised pieces of canal (the Bridgwater and Taunton in Somerset) with the remaining isolated summit section of the Grand Western."

More information about the competition is available at or download the promotional poster here. Franklin Andrews, Interserve, ICE and the University of Exeter are also supporting the competition.