There & Back Again


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There & Back Again

The Cromford Canal, spanning a distance of 14.5 miles (23 km) from Cromford to the Erewash Canal in Derbyshire, England, was constructed by William Jessop and Benjamin Outram. It featured four tunnels and 14 locks along its alignment. In ‘There and Back Again’, Simon Stoker details one of the first Canal restoration projects undertaken in the UK.

Starting from Cromford, it followed the 300-foot (91 m) contour line along the eastern side of the Derwent Valley towards Ambergate, where it turned eastwards along the Amber Valley. The canal then took a sharp turn to cross the valley, passing over the river and the Ambergate to Nottingham road via an aqueduct at Bullbridge. It then headed towards Ripley and proceeded through the Butterley Tunnel, leading it to the Erewash Valley. The Pinxton Branch, which served as a vital route for Nottinghamshire coal via the Erewash, led to the River Trent and Leicester and was the terminus of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway. The canal’s journey continued to Pye Hill near Ironville, where it met the junction for the Pinxton Branch, and descended through fourteen locks to reach the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill. Subsidence led to the closure of the canal in 1889.

After closure, the canal was taken over by the British Waterways Board and sold to the Derbyshire County Council in 1974. Attempts are being made to restore the canal, and about 5 miles remain ‘in water’.

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Simon Stoker



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