New basin for the Chesterfield Canal

Published: Thursday, 12 November 2009

Members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust are concerned that a recent article in narrowboatworld may have given a wrong impression, writes Rod Auton.

The Waterside development in Chesterfield is more good news for the canal's restoration.

At present all that exists is the basin itself, like a pond in a building site. This was built to take advantage of earth moving that needed to be done anyway as part of the site preparation; in this case creating foundation platforms, levelling the site and moving a Victorian sewer which was in the wrong place. Photograph by Phil Sangwell.

If you have all that kit on site it seems a shame not to use it! However the basin stands as a statement of intent and has drawn incredible interest from local people who yearn for the canal's return.

Start next year

Building of the Waterside development will start next year. The first area will be housing, but later will come a mixture of houses, apartments, offices, workshops, art spaces, hotels, cafés etc. The highlight will undoubtedly be Basin Square which will certainly rival the Crooked Spire as Chesterfield's premier tourist attraction.

The whole Waterside development covers 40 acres and includes landmark public spaces, an eco park, a waterside residential neighbourhood of  around 1,200 homes and over 30,000 sq.m. of business space. The illustration shows an artists' view of the finished project. It will take several years to build. It is predicted that the final dwellings will be ready by about 2018. These will be worth waiting for because they will be between the  Rother and the new canal cut and will open directly onto moorings. Eat your heart out Venice!

Chesterfield was badly hit by floods in 2007. It never hit the national headlines because of the events in Sheffield and Hull, but planners are determined to ensure that there is no repeat. Therefore flood defences have been key to the planning of Waterside.

Above flood level

The basin and surrounding development is above the flood level of the Rother at this point. The basin is linked to the Rother by a normal lock with a back pumping system to circulate water via an oxygenating cascade. The lock forms a flood defence. Part of the scheme is a new stretch of canal. This cut through the old Laver's site is the next bit to be built and will be completed as soon as economic circumstances permit. It is also protected by flood gates.

We are delighted that another phase of restoration is nearing completion. This is a stretch approaching half a mile in length near Staveley. It has been restored as part of the Staveley Northern Loop Phase 1. It includes three new bridges which means there are only two bridges left (both of which are in the design stage) to get us the next five miles to Killamarsh.

Phase 2 being finalised

The contracts for Phase 2 are being finalised at present. We are very pleased that the revised design for the second phase has incorporated many of the comments received as a result of consultation, including representations from the Chesterfield Canal Trust.

We fully expect the next stage to kick off in the New Year complete with the second part of the canal which will link the restored water at Mill Green with the section under the bridges and very soon with our new Staveley Town Basin, work upon which will start next year.

This area of Staveley has been devastated by mines and ironworks for centuries. The Staveley Coal and Iron Company once employed 7,000 men. Now however it is becoming a beautiful rural place to walk and relax as is demonstrated by the attached photo of Mill Green Bridge. This area was restored by the Chesterfield Canal Trust's Work Party.

Everyone interested in the restoration of canals is always impatient to see progress on the ground. Supporters of the Chesterfield Canal are no different. There is no doubt that we were spoilt when nine miles of canal and dozens of locks were opened between 2000 and 2003, but we have to remember that this only happened as a result of years of planning, grant applications, studies, meetings and incredible efforts from our Work Party.

Exactly the same process has been going on for the last few years with the result that we now have virtually complete plans to close the nine mile gap between the present head of navigation at Kiveton Park and the five restored miles at Staveley. Even the new locks and bridges are named!

A good year

This has been a good year for the Chesterfield Canal Trust and Partnership.

  • 1.Half a mile of canal has been restored at Renishaw where the Work Party has also been busy on the next stage.

  • 2.We have been awarded a Big Lottery Fund Grant of £380,000 to create the Hollingwood Hub by restoring and extending Hollingwood Lock House. Work will start next year.

  • 3.We have obtained a lease from British Waterways on our new Learning Boat, Python, which has been beautifully refurbished.

  • 4.We have opened two new interpretation panels and a commemorative plaque.

  • 5.We have launched the Staveley Town Lock Appeal which already has over £2,700.

  • 6.Nearly 10,000 people attended our Festival in May and we are now making this an annual event (Worksop, July 17/18th 2010).

  • 7.Membership of the Chesterfield Canal Trust is at an all-time high and is about to break through the 1,000 member barrier.

  • 8.As mentioned above, we have three completed new bridges and nearly half a mile of canal at Staveley and Chesterfield Waterside has been officially launched.

Not bad for a dead end!