Chesterfield Canal boat pull a success

Published: Friday, 19 May 2017

A GROUP of canal volunteers arrived back at Shireoaks on the Chesterfield Canal in the pouring rain having completed an epic journey. They had just completed their second Sponsored Boat Pull.

The Friends of Dawn Rose had set out from Shireoaks Marina on the Chesterfield Canal over three weeks earlier. During this time, Dawn Rose had been pulled by 15 different groups of people to West Stockwith on the Trent and back. That’s 56 miles and 48 locks.

Derby Sandiacre Canal TrustHuge variety of pullers

The first group were the Friends of Woodlands and Coachwood Green, from Shireoaks and the last were a group of undertakers from Harold Lilleker & Sons from Chesterfield. In between there had been a huge variety of pullers including scouts, canal societies and even 'Ladies on the Pull' from the Retford & Worksop Boat Club.

The picture shows two pullers from the Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust, with seven giving encouragement!

The journey was split up into 21 legs which varied from less than one mile to four miles and no locks to eight locks. Groups chose which section suited them best—on which day and at what time of day.

To their good cause

Every group paid a fee to the 'Friends of Dawn Rose' and everything else that they raised has gone to their chosen good cause. The total amount has run to several thousand pounds. For most of the time there had been good weather, but the heavens opened on the final day.

For the entire journey, Dawn Rose was accompanied by Python, the Trust’s 88 year old ex-working boat.
Dawn Rose is the only original Chesterfield Canal boat in existence.

Dawn RoseHerculean task

They were built to a unique design dating back to the 1770s. This design scarcely changed in 150 years. All the old boats had rotted away, so a group of volunteers from the Chesterfield Canal Trust built Dawn Rose from scratch. It is 70ft long with no engine. This herculean task took four years because they stuck to the traditional design and only used hand tools. They even made their own 9inch nails!

They then set up the 'Friends of Dawn Rose' as a way to support the maintenance, mooring and other costs to keep it afloat. The horse, Knight, is currently in training and it is hoped that it will do some towing demonstrations later this year.