A WEIR that could be up to 200 years old was removed from the River Irwell yesterday after falling victim to June’s freak weather.

The Environment Agency lifted the broken timber barrier out of the water using a winch to prevent flooding further downstream — an operation which cost the agency an estimated £40,000.

The 50-metre weir, off Ladyshore Road, Little Lever, collapsed on June 23 following heavy rainfall and flooding across Bolton.

Neil Clemmet, aged 65, of Ladyshore Road, spotted the damage when walking his dog.

He said: “The weir’s over 200 years old so it’s not surprising it collapsed.

“Now all of the mills are shut, all the weirs around Bolton are defunct and there’s no reason to have them.

“It gave way because of its age and because of the freak weather we’ve been having.

“I was still surprised when it collapsed because I thought it was made of steel.”

The weir formerly controlled the mill race, which was the channel of a stream, to the Lever Bank Bleach Works at Ladyshore near Little Lever.

The Irwell has dropped two metres in depth as a result of the timber structure collapsing. The man-made barriers usually cause water to pool behind the structure, allowing some water to flow over the top while stopping fish and other animals passing down the river.

It is thought that pressure from heavy rainfall could have caused the weir to give way.

The Environment Agency hopes the work will help to increase the flood protection to homes, and will improve the health of the River Irwell.

Another severe flood warning was issued last Friday when a month's rain fell in 24 hours.

Although Yorkshire, the Nor-th East, the Midlands and East Anglia bore the brunt of the severe weather, Bolton has still seen heavy rainfall.