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Monument record MDR516 - The Peak Forest Canal Upper Level, Derbyshire section

Type and Period (1)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Peak Forest Canal from southern terminus (SMR 14907) to parish boundary. (1) Aqueduct bridge & canal at SK00838362 is Listed (3) The Peak Forest Canal is one of the shortest canals in the country, at only 14½ miles long, but it is generally regarded as one of the most attractive from a scenic point of view, particularly along its upper reaches. It was originally planned to carry lime and limestone from the quarries around Dove Holes and Peak Forest to Marple and further afield to the industrial areas of Lancashire, but later coal was carried in the opposite direction. Authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1794, the canal was to run from Dukinfield to Bugsworth and Chapel Milton, but because of the hilly nature of the terrain beyond Bugsworth, a tramway was substituted for the final section to avoid building a large number of locks. The engineer appointed was Benjamin Outram, with Thomas Brown of Disley as the resident engineer. The Upper Level from Bugsworth to Marple was opened in 1796. (4) The Peak Forest Canal reached the height of its prosperity in the 1830s, when it had a virtual monopoly on the transport of stone from the quarries at Dove Holes. However, in the 1840s the position changed radically, partly due to increased competition, both from other canals and railways and from other Peak District quarries and limekilns. In 1846 the canal and its associated tramway and quarries was leased by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MSLR). Their original plans for the canal are unclear and they may have intended to run it down; however, they had expanded too quickly and were unable to do this. Over the long term, the canal continued to be unprofitable. With the closure of the Peak Forest Tramway in 1926 the main economic purpose of the Peak Forest Canal above the Marple Locks was to convey water from its reservoirs to the lower canal. (5) See SMR14970 for horse tunnel and aqueduct at Peak Forest Canal junction with Bugsworth and Whaley Bridge branches.

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1984. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part I. Borough of High Peak.
  • <2> Index: Lamb, B. Index Record for Industrial Sites, Peak Forest Canal. BL 01.
  • <3> Listed Building File: Department of the Environment. Listing Notification.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Bowyer, O. 1989. The Peak Forest Canal: Upper Level: Towpath Guide, 3rd ed., New Mills History Notes No. 11.
  • <5> Article in serial: Hodgkins, D. 2007. 'The Peak Forest Canal 1846-1926', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 127, pp 155-166.



Grid reference Centred SK 010 833 (2859m by 2919m) (Multiple Centre Site)

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Record last edited

Apr 26 2022 3:44PM

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