23rd January 2018
The Chesterfield Canal was officially opened on 4th June 1777. The 250th anniversary of that momentous event will occur in 2027.
According to the Derby Mercury, the first boat to reach Chesterfield with a cargo from Stockwith was met at Tapton Lock by “a very large Concourse of People, and was introduced, with Colours flying, firing of Guns, and a Band of Music; after which the Goods were unloaded and put into Waggons, which were drawn to the Town by the Navigators … with the Music playing before them … and the Gentlemen of the Town concluded the Day over a chearful Glass; the ringing of Bells, Bonfires and Fire-Works contributing to the Festivity of the Evening.”
Clearly that was an incredibly important day for Chesterfield; the re-opening of the canal will be an equally important celebration. We are therefore mounting a campaign to complete the restoration by 2027.
1777 jug (Courtesy Chesterfield Museum)
Today, we wrote to dozens of senior decision makers – the Minister for Waterways, Canal & River Trust, MPs, Council Leaders, Funding bodies, Waterways Associations, landowners, developers, HS2, Environment Agency, Natural England, Wildlife Trusts etc. The text is below.
250th Anniversary of the Chesterfield Canal
2027 will see the 250th Anniversary of the opening of the Chesterfield Canal. We are campaigning to make 2027 the year when the restoration of the canal is complete and boats will once again be able to cruise from the River Trent through Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire into the heart of Chesterfield.
Economic regeneration, jobs and health benefits. There are more than £½ billion of developments already planned along the route, most of which will be completed, or well under way, by 2027. These include Waterside, 550 houses on the St Gobain site and a whole new village on the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees site, the HS2 Infrastructure Maintenance Depot, Staveley Town Basin and hundreds of new houses in Kiveton. None are fully dependent upon the canal, but all will be hugely enhanced by having a fully functioning waterway on their doorstep.
The Gibb report states that a fully restored Chesterfield Canal would bring over 1,000 new jobs.
The towpath along the existing open canal is already busy with walkers, cyclists and anglers. Canoeing is increasingly popular and our four trip boats carry thousands of passengers every year. The towpath is very popular with Walking for Health groups because it is flat. We are organising the first ever Chesterfield Canal Walking Festival this September.
What has already been done?
Since 1990, 12 miles of canal have been restored, 34 locks have been restored, 3 new locks have been built (2 by our volunteer Work Party) and 11 major bridges have been built along with 2 new marinas.
What remains to be done?
About 8½ miles of canal along with 20 new locks, 13 restored locks and several bridges and culverts. There are already plans for this work and engineers are currently revisiting and refining them.
Is there a key feature?
The Waterside basin will be 200 metres from Chesterfield Station, which will be adapted for HS2 trains.
We are also investigating the possibility of a major tourist attraction in Killamarsh, where the canal will climb out of Rother Valley. We could have an incline plane or lift such as the Falkirk Wheel.
What is the Trust doing?
We have over 1,700 members. We spend nearly £100,000 p.a. for the materials and plant used by our volunteer Work Party on restoration. Our 2017 Appeal has raised over £45,000. We campaign tirelessly for the full restoration of the canal, run trip boats, hold festivals and provide volunteers to maintain the canal. Our Seminar in September 2016 attracted many senior decision makers all of whom were impressed by the possibilities.
Who else is getting this letter?
We are sending this to all the local MPs, Council Leaders, Mayors, developers, HS2 Ltd., potential funders, Wildlife Trusts, Chambers of Commerce, tourism and waterways organisations and HM Government.
How can I help?
This letter is for information. Our most important request for now is that you keep the 2027 project in mind – look out for funding opportunities; mention the project to your business partners; spread the idea. In the future we will be calling upon your support in a variety of ways.
There is no doubt that the full restoration of the Chesterfield Canal has massive public support. With your help, we can see Brindley’s last, and most revolutionary, canal back in full working order within ten years.