The Development Managers Tale
Chesterfield Canal Partnership
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
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
Railways "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
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
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.
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"
All of this activity is only possible because of the enthusiasm
of the different member organisations which make up the Chesterfield
Chesterfield Canal Partnership