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The Chesterfield Canal - Development Manager's Reports

What goes around…

2006 proved to be a significant year for the Chesterfield Canal Partnership – 2007 is shaping up to follow suit. Of particular importance in our search for significant funding is the huge boost which we have received from the IWAAC Report on Waterway Restoration and Development Projects and our success in the BURA Awards.

Inland Waterway Amenity Advisory Council Report

The Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council (IWAAC) is the Government’s independent expert panel on the inland waterways. The Council’s report on "Inland Waterway Restoration and Development Projects in England, Wales and Scotland" is the third such review and examines 118 projects, of which 79 are in England.

The report grades the projects in two ways; First, as to whether the project is of National, Regional or Local significance or importance. Second, as to the readiness of the project to receive funding on a four point scale: 1 - Ready to Fund, 2 - Major elements of work still to undertake. 3 - Preliminary studies completed but many uncertainties. 4 - Initial concept requiring much work.

The 2006 IWAAC Report rates the Chesterfield Canal project as National Importance and "Ready to fund" (i.e. grade1)

The Chesterfield Canal ranks among only 9 schemes of national importance with a 'readiness to fund' score of 1. The others in that category are:

  • Bow Back Rivers
  • Bude Canal: Barge and tub boat sections
  • Cotswolds Canals - Stroudwater Navigation
  • Droitwich Barge and Junction Canals
  • Foxton Incline Plane (excluding the plane itself)
  • Lancaster Canal (Northern Reaches)
  • Montgomery Canal
  • Pocklington Canal

Of these it should be noted that the Droitwich scheme has funding and is on the way to completion, the Cotswold Canals has funding for phase one, and the Bow Back Rivers are central to the redevelopment of the Olympic site in London and thus might possibly soon receive funding (!). The Bude, Foxton and Pocklington schemes are all relatively small scale. The Bude has just received major funding from the West of England Development Agency. The Partnerships major competitors for funding are therefore the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal, the Montgomery Canal and the second phase of the Cotswolds Canals.

The description of the Chesterfield Canal project in the report is extremely complementary and ends by saying 'In a number of respects this is a model restoration project'. This is a tremendous boost to our search for significant funding as the IWAAC Report has been used in the past by funding bodies to guide their decision making.

This report is a major achievement; significantly improving on the Partnerships past ranking and marking our arrival as one of the leading canal restoration and development projects in the UK.

Waterways Renaissance Award

The annual Waterways Renaissance Awards are run jointly by The Waterways Trust and the British Urban Regeneration Association and seek to recognise and encourage best practice in sustainable waterway development and regeneration throughout the UK. The awards recognise ten categories of achievement from master planning to partnership (as one wag put it "they are like the Oscars…only wetter).

It is a great pleasure to record that in March the Chesterfield Canal Partnership won the Partnership category in the 2007 Waterways Renaissance Awards.

The Partnership category aims to recognise a project that exemplifies strong partnership working and co-operative arrangements between the public, private and community sectors. In their summation the judges noted: "This is a very effective partnership. The Chesterfield Canal Trust plays a major role at all levels and local authorities have put aside any personal ambitions to ensure that the vision is delivered and deliverable". They added "the relationship between the public and the voluntary sector has been crucial and has shown the value and wealth of experience that the voluntary sector can bring to a project such as this."

Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive of The Waterways Trust, said: "The modern renaissance of our waterways is transforming the environment, creating education and business opportunities, injecting new life into areas and bringing communities together. As a winner of the Partnership category, Chesterfield Canal Partnership is properly recognised as an exemplar and we hope its success will inspire and encourage others to do the same."

This award is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in the Partnership and is further evidence of our recent progress.

Meanwhile progress was also being made with more down to earth activities...


A detailed specification for the design of the urban canal has been drawn up for the Chesterfield Waterside Partnership and work on the design of the waterspaces within the A61/River Rother corridor is proceeding. It is hoped to have a preliminary hydrological solution to the creation of the new waterspaces by the Summer.

The early long list of potential development partners has now been whittled down to two – both have been invited to prepare designs for the terminal basin area. A final decision on preferred development partner should be made by the summer.

The Canal Partnership has also been closely involved in the development of a proposal for an innovative arts space within the development called "Waterside –Works". This is now being taken forward into the design stage.


As was noted in the last edition of Cuckoo extensive clearance work was carried out by Waterway Recovery Group over the Christmas holiday. This has recently been supplemented by further essential tree clearance work near Barlborough Road Bridge commissioned by Derbyshire County Council. At the same time, and working with Dave Trickett, an additional funding bid for the Renishaw Foundry Footbridge has been submitted to WREN and is pending a decision.

Derbyshire County Council has agreed to become the site landlord and to maintain the section through the Countryside Service and the Three Valleys Project (with help from CCT) once the works have been completed. With final agreement on landownership now pending and significant funding in place work on the final design and tender specification (by Selwyn Jones and Peter Storey of DCC) is now underway. It is hoped that, after due process, contactors will be on site by the end of the summer.

In parallel, work has continued to bring the next Waterway Recovery Group camp to the canal and after a long search Stuart Reaney and Martin Bloomfield may have located suitable accommodation. We are looking forward to welcoming another group of WRGies to the Chesterfield.


Work has now commenced on the first phase of the Staveley Northern Loop Road. This will include building a new Hall Lane Bridge and providing bridge crossings at the bypass road itself and under Eckington Road. DCC engineers have helpfully made minor changes to the design of the latter to better accommodate the future fall and rise locks under the railway. Since the end of March contractors have been on site to undertake brush cutting and site preparation. Full possession of the site by the contractors should take place in the next month and machine works are due to start thereafter. It is projected that the first phase of Northern Loop Road Works will take up to two years. The second phase – including the canal link from Constitution Hill back to Mill Green - will follow immediately after.

Work is also progressing on a cost-benefit study on the possible Staveley Town Basin. This is being undertaken to identify the full benefits of the project to the wider community and is an essential preliminary to seeking funding for construction. As will be realised from the above we have effectively a two-year window to achieve this target.

Killamarsh to Kiveton Engineering Design Study

Preliminary work on the Archaeology has been undertaken over the winter to take full advantage of the reduced vegetation cover. This has provided some additional detail on the tunnel top features but has not identified any new features or archaeological sites which might impede a surface route. With the Spring now fast arriving surveys of the flora and fauna of the route can commence and will be undertaken throughout the Spring, Summer and early Autumn.


A report on the potential for the development of the Worksop Waterside has been prepared. The report is similar in format to that which kick started the A61/Rother Corridor development - it will be interesting to see if it is adopted as enthusiastically by Bassetlaw as the A61 report was by Chesterfield.

Promotion and External Events

The Trust has now placed the order for the new Trust / Partnership display trailer and work on the graphics and displays is in progress. A summary version of the Partnerships strategy document – "2020 Vision – A strategy for the restoration and development of the Chesterfield Canal" is in preparation and will be available by the time the trailer is ready to launch. Speaking of launching it has been suggested that the trailer be given a name on the lines of the John Varley and the Seth Ellis (if the Royal Navy can name landbased "Ships" so can we). In consequence we are searching for a suitable name (and, yes, the Costa-Packet has been suggested…). Any suggestions can be sent to the usual suspects on the inside back cover or directly to myself.

In the meantime we have been represented at National symposia on Canal Regeneration and have contributed to the ongoing debate on the funding of the inland waterways through presentations to the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities and to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Funding of British Waterways.

…and finally

Further good news – the members of the partnership have now confirmed funding for the next three years thereby securing the contracts for myself and Stuart Reaney. I guess you will all have to put up with us for a while yet! I look forward to the challenges.

So then, to conclude, as those who attended the AGM will have heard me say "it’s been a quiet year…"

Geraint Coles
Chesterfield Canal Partnership
Development Manager

Restoration Progress

The Development Managers Tale…

Geraint Coles
Development Manager
Chesterfield Canal Partnership

Spring, 2005


Dr Geraint Coles, Development Manager for the Chesterfield Canal Partnership looks to the future.

The Great Central Railway, one-time owners of the Chesterfield Canal, had the heraldic motto "Forward". It is a motto which could well apply to the Chesterfield Canal itself: the last festival held at Tapton Lock in 2002 celebrated the removal of the final blockage to through navigation on the five mile length from Chesterfield to Staveley. This festival can justly celebrate the reopening of the canal from Shireoaks to Kiveton Park, the new Mill Green Wharf Extension and the ongoing progress in the planning and campaigning for the full restoration of the "missing link" from Staveley to Kiveton.

The restoration of the Canal from Worksop back to Kiveton Park has been long campaigned for by the Chesterfield Canal Trust. Much hard work by Nottinghamshire County Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and British Waterways and funding from Yorkshire Forward and the Heritage Lottery Fund led to this magnificent stretch of water being reopened in 2003.

Since then Derbyshire County Council, with financial support from the East Midlands Development Agency, has reclaimed and landscaped the derelict former gas works site at Mill Green, Staveley, while the Canal Trust, with similar support from WREN, has completed restoration of another 100-metre length of the canal through the Mill Green Bridge to a new wharf.

Canal Trust volunteers continue to work near Mill Green rebuilding the canal wash walls in preparation for further extensions planned as part of the Markham Vale Northern Loop Road Scheme, supported financially by Staveley Neighbourhood Management.

In Bassetlaw and Nottinghamshire new footpath links, improved access to the towpath and surface upgrading have been undertaken around Retford by British Waterways. Further access improvements are planned for the Worksop-Retford Section with the support of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Back to the Future in Chesterfield

In Chesterfield the last year has seen remarkable advances in planning for the development of the terminus of the Chesterfield Canal.

At present the canal terminates in the River Rother just upstream (south) of the St.Helenas floodgate. When opened the canal utilised a short length of the river to reach a canal wharf on Wharf Lane. This wharf was isolated by the construction of the Great Central Railway’s "Chesterfield Loop" line, opened in 1892. As a replacement the railway straightened the course of the river and built a new much smaller wharf further upstream on a site on the edge of the former Trebor Basset factory.

A year ago it seemed likely that the canal would terminate in the River behind a car park for a proposed DIY superstore. Since then, the Canal Partnership has been instrumental in alerting both landowners and Chesterfield Borough Council to the potential of waterside development in this corridor. Building on our initial vision document, Chesterfield Borough Council enthusiastically engaged consultants to devise a development plan. Working with local community groups and landowners the result is a very exciting proposal featuring a new length of canal and a new terminal basin near the site of the second (Great Central) basin. This plan features the canal and its towpath as the traffic-free centrepiece of a mixed use development including offices, flats, bars and cafes together with new public open spaces and informal events areas. There is also potential to develop a new visitor centre and other visitor facilities beside the canal.

Waterside locations are of proven value in economic and social regeneration and the Canal Partnership is proud of the role it is playing in helping to bring a new "Canal Quarter" to Chesterfield.

Forward from Staveley to Killamarsh

Work on this section falls within the remit of the Next Navigation Project. Next Navigation brings together a team of specialists from Derbyshire County Council to produce an integrated design study of the route. This is a "nuts and bolts" study intended to tell us exactly what needs to be done and what it will cost. The project will produce its final report in the autumn of 2005.

The Staveley to Killamarsh Section poses many challenges. As anyone who has walked the Cuckoo Way from Staveley to Renishaw will know, there are stretches of the canal which are somewhat less than level thanks to mining subsidence. How un-level the canal line now actually is, can be seen from the surveys conducted by Halcrow in 1995. In February 2004 the Next Navigation design team commissioned Derbyshire County Council surveyors who have now produced a very detailed record of the levels on the canal from Staveley to Killamarsh.

In crude terms the survey shows that we will be able to maintain the original pound level from Killamarsh Old Hall through Renishaw as far as The Hague Farm. To the south of that point the line of the canal drops by as much as 4 metres and we are exploring a number of different ways of getting around this problem and dealing with the severely subsided and damaged Staveley Puddle Bank. The most likely solution involves the construction of a new canal channel further up the hill slope. We would then utilise the cut material as the fill to build up the denuded embankment across the Valley of the Doe Lea (the "puddle bank").

Within Staveley significant restoration gains are planned as part of the development of the Staveley Relief Road. This new road loops around the north of Staveley and will be built as part of the development of the Markham Vale scheme. It will have some visual impact on the recently restored Mill Green length and will run close to the Canal at Constitutional Hill, but it will provide an entirely new canal channel from Constitutional Hill as far as the Oxcroft Mineral Railway. Realignment of the channel into the hillside enables us to achieve a navigable height road bridge at Hall Lane. Navigable height bridges will be provided where the canal passes under the new bypass at Eckington Road and we are working with Network Rail on the design of a new canal underpass beneath the Oxcroft Mineral Railway.

Working with Staveley Neighbourhood Management, plans are also well advanced for a new canal basin and waterside restaurant / bar at Staveley. It is hoped to bring these forward with the support of a commercial developer at an appropriate time.

Forward through Killamarsh

Important advances have also been made in the preparation for the reinstatement of the "missing link" at Killamarsh.

In the 98 years since the partial collapse of the Norwood Tunnel, the line of the Chesterfield Canal through Killamarsh has gradually become in-filled, encroached upon and in many places built over. A route must, however, pass through, or around, Killamarsh to rejoin the east and west sections of the canal. Within Killamarsh there is substantial support for the return of the canal; a recent local poll by the Killamarsh Regeneration Group established that, of their sample audience, around 85 % were in favour of the return of the canal. There is clearly a lot of public support which we now need to build upon, with public consultation key to our current work.

In 1995 the Chesterfield Canal Trust commissioned Halcrow Ltd to identify alternative routes and to assess their feasibility from an engineering perspective. In addition to the original canal line Halcrow identified four routes together with a number of possible variations.

In February 2004 the Killamarsh Route Sub-Group of the Chesterfield Canal Partnership appointed the consultants Jacobs Babtie, working in association with Ectotec and British Waterways, to undertake a cost – benefit study of the alternative routes. The Babtie study was charged with assessing, not only the engineering costs of each route, but also the potential economic and social benefits which each could bring to the community of Killamarsh.

Following public meetings and community consultation Jacobs Babtie reported their findings in August 2004. Based on this report a decision as to the preferred route has been taken (Route 4 -- Central Line East) by the Killamarsh Route Sub Group. This decision has now been formally adopted by North East Derbyshire District Council and will be incorporated as the preferred & protected route for restoration in the Local Plan. Detailed engineering studies are now underway, as part of the Next Navigation Project.

Forward from Killamarsh to Kiveton

Killamarsh is not the only missing link in the restoration – we also need to close the gap between Killamarsh and Kiveton Park. The challenges appear formidable and include –

Restoration of the Norwood Lock Flight -- 13 locks, many now substantially damaged

Achieving sufficient water supply for the operation of the Norwood Flight (the original flight was perennially short of water so we need to address this issue from the outset)

A passage under the M1 either using part of the original Norwood Tunnel or an alternative route.

A passage across the former Kiveton Park Colliery site, including possible new locks up and down (in and out of the Tunnel fragments) together with the potential development of a new marina facility.

Further, in this section we have to face the vexed question of the cross regional funding of restoration; the major and costly engineering works will fall in South Yorkshire and the majority of economic benefit will accrue in Derbyshire. Notwithstanding, the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward have announced their intention to make available funds for a detailed study of the best route and the cost / benefits of restoration of the canal through this complex section. With the enthusiastic support of Councillors and Officers of Rotherham Metropolitan District Council we have now made an application for funding for the study and we await the results with interest.

Forward to a Rother Valley Link

A key element in the sustainable future for the Chesterfield Canal is a waterways link with the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation. This "Rother Valley Link" will create a two-week cruising ring through South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire and open up new east west routes. A study on the cost-benefits of potential alternative routes for the link is currently being undertaken in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University.

Fast Forward

The Chesterfield Canal Partnership is also involved in many other aspects of the restoration and development of the Canal: developing a public access strategy, seeking funds to create a new canal archive and supporting the re-creation of a typical wooden horse-drawn "Cuckoo" narrowboat.

All of this activity is only possible because of the enthusiasm of the different member organisations which make up the Chesterfield Canal Partnership.

Geraint Coles
Development Manager
Chesterfield Canal Partnership

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