HRH The Duke of Gloucester visited the Chesterfield Canal Trust at its Hollingwood Hub base on 9th October.
Upon arrival, he was introduced to Cllr George Wharmby, the Chair of Derbyshire County Council, Cllr Stuart Brittain, the Mayor of Chesterfield, Lee Rowley, MP for North East Derbyshire, Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield and Robin Stonebridge, the Chair of the Trust.
Robin introduced him to the Trust’s officers and Katey Whelpton, the proprietor of Katey’s Coffee Shop. He then led the Duke into the Hub and gave him a briefing about the canal and the current state of its restoration.
Following a presentation of before and after photographs demonstrating the public benefits of a restored canal, the Duke spent some time meeting about twenty volunteers and representatives of some of the organisations with whom the Trust is in partnership.
The Duke showed a keen interest and knowledge of the canal and remembered having unveiled a plaque at Shireoaks Marina on 9th May 2000, to celebrate its official opening and the completion of restoration in Nottinghamshire.
He then went for a short cruise on Madeline, which was built by students from Eckington School and which the Trust uses as a tripboat, sharing the proceeds with the school.
On the cruise, in glorious sunshine, he was briefed about the plans to build a new village and HS2 depot on the old Staveley Works site and saw the entrance to the Hollingwood Common Canal – an underground canal dug in the 1790s that extended for over two miles to mine workings.
Upon his return, the Duke gave a brief speech in which he said that he greatly admired the wonderful work that the Trust’s volunteers do and the great public benefit of a restored canal. He wished the Trust the best of luck in the future. Finally, he unveiled a plaque on Madeline to record his visit.
After leaving the Hub, the Duke visited Barrow Hill Roundhouse, Bolsover Castle and Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
The Duke of Gloucester is The Queen’s cousin and a full-time working member of the Royal Family. He attends national and international events in support of The Queen and her duties as Head of State, as well as undertaking extensive public duties and engagements every year reflecting his own interests and charities.
The Chesterfield Canal Trust is campaigning to complete the restoration of the canal by its 250th Anniversary in 2027. Twelve miles have already been restored along with thirty seven locks, eleven bridges and two marinas. There is just over eight miles left unrestored. The Trust was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for voluntary service by groups in the community in 2017.
The Duke meets the civic dignitaries …
… Robin Stonebridge …
… and the Trust officers plus Katey Whelpton.
Robin points out Lowgates, where we have an issue with the HS2 crossing.
Above and below, meeting volunteers.
Discussing plans for the area on the boat trip.
Arriving back at the Hub. (Photo © John Lower)
Addressing the assembly.
Unveling the plaque.
There are actually two identical plaques. This one is now mounted inside Madeline’s cabin; the other is on the wall in the Hub with our other plaques.
Click here to see Toby Perkins record a brief video on Facebook.