Clay donation aids Chesterfield Canal restoration

Published: Friday, 28 April 2023

THE restoration of the Chesterfield Canal will shortly take a great leap forward.

This has been made possible by a huge donation of clay from Suon Ltd.

The Chesterfield Canal Trust will be spending £5.3 million on major works. These monies are its share of the Staveley Town Deal.

Rebuilding Puddlebank

A substantial section will be rebuilding the historic Staveley Puddlebank. This is a massive structure 800 metres long that stretches across the Doe Lea Valley. It was originally constructed in 1776 out of clay dug by hand and moved in wheelbarrows by navvies.

Where it crossed the river Doe Lea it was 10 metres high. It was partially bulldozed in 1972, hence the need to remodel it.

ClayMoundLargeThe value of the clay runs well into seven figures. It is currently at Foxlow, just north of Barrow Hill, with a total volume of 160,000 cubic metres, which is hard to imagine. If it was all heaped onto the pitch at Wembley Stadium, it would be 22 metres high! That’s the height of a seven storey building or five double decker buses. If it was piled onto the centre court at Wimbledon, it would be over 800 metres high. That’s the same as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building or nearly three times the height of the Shard—Britain’s tallest building.

Incredibly grateful

The Chesterfield Canal Trust is incredibly grateful for this wonderful gesture by Suon and also to the Chatsworth Settlement which has waived its right to the royalties that it held upon the clay, with Nicholas Wood, Estates Director for Chatsworth, commenting:

“We are very happy to have been able to support the Chesterfield Canal Trust with this project, and we hope it will help enable future generations to enjoy the canal for many years.”

The trust’s Development Manager, George Rogers, explained:

“Purchasing and transporting suitable materials from other sources would be prohibitively expensive and cause untold disturbance to the local population. Without this incredibly generous donation, the project simply couldn’t proceed in its current form and so the trust is very grateful for the support and generosity of Suon and Chatsworth. We look forward to continuing our long history of working together to enable the restoration of the canal”.

Ivan Fomin, Chair of the Staveley Town Deal Board, also explained:

Sponsors working together

“It’s fantastic to see project sponsors working together to achieve the overall objectives of the Town Deal. This is an important donation that will help ensure the canal can continue to be enjoyed by local people and visitors, whilst making use of this natural resource in the local area.”




The Staveley area is set to benefit from £25.2m worth of funding from the Government’s Town Deal programme, following a successful bid by the Staveley Town Deal Board.
The Board submitted a Town Investment Plan to unlock the funding package for a range of projects that will drive long term economic growth, offer quality skills and employment opportunities and improve the green spaces and canal network around Staveley. It aims to create a legacy for the future—creating a place for people to start, stay and grow.