Staveley Puddlebank is an incredibly important structure. It belies the notion that James Brindley only built contour canals. It is an embankment about 800 yards long and 30 feet high where it crosses the River Doe Lea. It was built entirely of interlocked clay blocks in 1776/77.

We will put the most recent photos at the top of this page.

October 20th. The new compound is now complete.

The palisade fencing is up to the south …..

….. and to the north ….

….. and to the west.

If you look very closely, you will see some tiny yellow dots to the right on the pylon.

This was some of the guys doing more scrub bashing along the puddlebank.

As you can see, Roy was using his chainsaw whilst the others were tending the bonfire.


It’s very difficult to get a decent photograph of the Puddlebank because of the shrubbery, but this shot shows one of the issues – dealing with the power lines which will prohibit the use of cranes in their vicinity.

On the above map, A is Staveley Town Lock, B is the mineral line bridge, C is the location of our new compound at the bottom of Bellhouse Lane, D is the crossing of the River Doe Lea, E is where the Norbriggs Arm comes in and the canal turns north toward Renishaw.

This 1890s map shows the Puddlebank snaking from bottom left to top right. Note that the old mineral line and gas works were still at Bellhouse Lane (bottom left). The GCR Derbyshire lines (left) is now the Trans-Pennine Trail. Uggerstall House is now Huggester Farm.

The River Doe Lea used to go under the canal in twin culverts, but in the 1960s the Environment Agency (or its forbear) cut a V-shaped section out to prevent the possibility of flooding upstream.

This shows the current footbridge across the River Doe Lea from the eastern abutment.

This shows the river looking south from the bridge.

A final decision has not yet been made upon how the canal will cross the river, but an early suggestion was an aqueduct.

5th March  2017. Our Work Party started in this area. It was so wet that this bit of canal at Lowgates was in water. Our new compound is now in the field on the right.

This was the reverse view. You can see Eckington Road Bridge in the distance.

Our volunteers were clearing the last of the scrub, saplings, brambles etc. from Bellhouse Basin, which is where we held our archaeological dig that August. Click here to see the story about the dig.

It’s hard to see, but the slight ridge sloping up from the left is the edge of the old basin. The Cuckoo boat was roughly under the bonfire.

You can see more clearly here. The canal is on the left, you can see the bank, and the line of the basin bank is straight across on the top right.

This 1976 map shows the whole area. Bellhouse Basin is just to the right of Bellhouse Bridge, from the site of which the photo above was taken. Eckington Road Bridge is to the far left and the mineral line bridge is Railway Bridge No. 13b. There’s more about this below.

This is the Cuckoo Way direction arrow on a post at the bottom of Bellhouse Lane. By the way, the birds are Choughs – they come from the Retford Coat of Arms and appear on our logo – see the top of the page.

January 27th  2019. Bromley was holding a staff …..

….. because David was taking some levels along the Puddlebank.

A measurement was taken …..

….. before turning round to the next location.

This was at Paddlesack Bridge where the Norbriggs arm joins the canal at milestone 6.

February 10th. The guys were doing some vegetation clearance on the Puddlebank.

Terry was supervising whilst Roy used his chainsaw.

Andy and Terry were loading the logs into the dumper.

….. and then dumping them on the fire.

Meanwhile, Malcolm, Walter, Paul and Adrian had started another fire.

When they had finished, it looked pretty devastated, but it soon greened up.

The first thing to arrive in the new compond was a container.

This was to be the canteen for the volunteers. Ralph, Dave and Bromley were discussing how to kit it out.

Dave soon got going.

We would like to thank Chris Tann from Top Drawer Joinery for his help with this project.

August 4th.  Dave Kiddy seems very pleased with his new empire.

August 22nd. Our Work Party has been mowing a path across the Puddlebank.

This went down the steps to the River Doe Lea bridge, which is usually blockled by brambles and nettles at this time of year.

They also cleared the other side …..

….. right to Milestone 6 which is where it meets the Norbriggs Cutting.

Meanwhile, back at the new compound, the welfare unit had been moved from Staveley Town Basin.

Graham and Dave were fixing up the pipework.