12th June 2010
Chesterfield Canal Trust’s historic ex-BW working boat, called Python, reached Kiveton Park on Friday 11th June. It got to the Norwood Tunnel which is sealed up and so is the current Head of Navigation of the canal. It was accompanied by Phoenix, another narrowboat owned by Trust member Mick Cheshire.
The epic journey started at Shireoaks Marina. It went through the 23 historic locks of the Turnerwood and Thorpe flights that were reopened following restoration in 2003. The last half mile from Kiveton Park Station to the mouth of Norwood Tunnel was through dense undergrowth and very thick weed, but it arrived safely.
A passenger for the first part of the trip was Sean McGinley, the Area Manager for British Waterways from whom Python is leased. He was keen to ensure that it could negotiate the locks properly because it has got stuck in Stret Lock and Shireoaks Middle Lock on previous occasions.
Python is a coppered steel construction craft built by Yarwoods in Northwich and fitted out at Uxbridge. She was commissioned in February 1930. Her fleet number was 249 and her registration number was UXB 572. She came into the hands of the British Transport Commission (which eventually became British Waterways) in 1949. They shortened her in the 1980s to her current 53′. She had been out of service for a year before the Trust took her over last year. Her sister boat, Panther, is owned by the Coventry Canal Society.
The Trust is campaigning to restore the nine mile gap in the canal from the Norwood Tunnel to the five miles of open canal from Staveley to Chesterfield. This would enable boats from the River Trent to cruise all the way into the new £310m Waterside development which is a stone’s throw from Chesterfield town centre.
Python’s next big public appearance will be in the build up to the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s Festival at Worksop on 17th and 18th July.