Waterway Recovery Group on the Chesterfield

Published: Monday, 24 August 2009

FOR the past week 13 members of the Waterway Recovery Group have been working on the restoration of the Chesterfield Canal at Renishaw in Derbyshire.

They are of course all volunteers who give up their holidays to go to the WRG work camps as they want to see more of Britain's canals coming back to life. Some members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust have also joined them at the site, Rod Auton tells us.

They have been building a new wash wall which will be on the outside of a bend just before the A6135 Main Road Bridge. The foundations had already been laid and they have gradually built up the wall with block work. Eventually it will be capped in stone and there will be moorings for boaters wishing to visit Renishaw Village or the Sitwell Arms Hotel.

Luckily, the weather has been pretty good for the volunteers, though there has been some frustration because of supplies of materials not arriving as arranged.

In March of this year, work finished on restoring a half mile stretch of the canal just beyond the worksite. There had been a colliery and ironworks by the canal which had been derelict for very many years, so it was a major job to remove toxic waste and stabilise the land. A bridge to the new neighbouring housing estate has been installed and there are plans, currently awaiting grants, to build a superb park and play area. A previous Waterway Recovery Group camp had cleared trees and undergrowth to allow the restoration to begin.

There have been 11 miles of waterway and thirty six locks on the Chesterfield Canal restored so far. Last week's work is another small step in closing the nine mile gap between the five navigable miles at the Derbyshire end of the canal and the Nottinghamshire and East Rotherham stretch which is navigable for 32 miles to the Trent. Plans and permissions are in place for much of this gap. A survey done by Gibbs Law in 2001 estimated that a fully restored canal would bring over 1,000 permanent jobs and over £3 million per year in tourist spending.