New Chesterfield Canal find is a 'Cuckoo' boat

Published: Wednesday, 16 August 2017

WORKERS at an archaeological dig at Staveley at an old basin on the Chesterfield Canal have discovered an original 'Cuckoo' boat.

Such narrowboats were used extensively on the waterway in its working days, and now owing to the persistence and determination of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, an archaeological dig has uncovered a lost ‘cuckoo’ narrowboat at the Bellhouse Basin at Staveley, Alan Tilbury reports.

Andy Robinson

The two weeks excavation is mainly due to the hard work of co-ordinator Andy Robinson, who, in 2012, wrote a paper entitled The Lost Cuckoo, believing there could be an example of the wooden boat beneath the former basin.

After consulting the older generation that remembers the boats working the canal he managed to discover where such a boat could have been discarded, with Rod Auton remarking:

“Some people thought he was talking rubbish but some of us had faith. Around this time last year, Scott Lomax, an archaeologist from the City of Nottingham, got in touch, and after reading Andy’s paper he thought there was something in it.”

Discovered first day

The two worked together on a bid for funding from Aviva Community Fund, and after attracting 9,500 public votes, a detailed bid won £10,000 to fund the dig, which began on the 5th August, and discovered the boat the very day.

It wasn’t just a cuckoo, they also unearthed a maintenance boat complete with iron ice-breaker, both in good condition, and then later, the original canal towpath was unearthed.

However, they are not considered for restoration, so after a short while on show they will be covered up once again.