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Site record MDR6152 - Chesterfield Canal, Chesterfield, Brimington, Eckington, Killamarsh and Staveley

Type and Period (2)

  • (Georgian - 1771 AD to 1777 AD)
  • (Constructed, Georgian to Unknown - 1780 AD? (approximately))

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Chesterfield Canal: Construction began 11 July 1771 under the engineering design of James Brindley and his assistant John Varley. Ultimately, part of a 45 mile long canal involving 65 locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels, houses, roads, warehouses etc. Norwood tunnel was at the time the second longest in the country (2850 yards). Built to facilitate the shipment of a wide variety of products and produce: lead, corn, wood, iron, marble, stone, millstones, coal, earthenware, malt, lime - just some of the items that would benefit in trade through the opening of the canal. Brindley died in 1772, and the canal was fully opened for navigation in 1777. (1) There is a section of restored Chesterfield Canal in Brimington parish from SK 394 738 - SK 408 746. (2) The initial section of restored Chesterfield Canal runs from the point at which it joined the Rother to the culverted bridge under Station Road, Brimington (SK388723-394738). This section includes a restored brick, humpbacked bridge (SMR 31524) at SK388724, and Tupton Lock (SMR 31525). The final section of the canal - the canal wharf, after the canalized section of the Rother - is now completely subsumed by a combination of Arnold Laver's timber yard and the A61 Chesterfield bypass. Only the street name Wharf Lane now indicates the former presence of the wharf. The purpose of the Chesterfield Canal was to provide an outlet to the Trent and Humber for north Derbyshire minerals and manufactured goods. Major sponsors therefore were concerns like London Lead Co. which was operating in the Ashover area, and the Cavendish family who had major coal-mining interests on their Staveley estate. The canal was navigable from Shireoaks to Worksop by 1774, but was not opened throughout until 1777. James Brindley had initially been appointed engineer but he died in 1772 and was eventually replaced by Hugh Henshall. The canal was purchased by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, the forerunner of the Great Central, and several deviations in the original line of the canal were made in the Chesterfield area in the early 1890s to accommodate the Beighton-Annesley line and the Chesterfield Loop. By 1905 the Chesterfield-Staveley section was already unnavigable due to subsidence, and the collapse of the Norwood tunnel in 1908 brought about the end of commercial traffic on the Derbyshire section of the canal. The Chesterfield Canal Society was formed in 1976 with the aim of preserving and restoring the canal and this has been followed up in Chesterfield Borough in the 1990s by a major restoration scheme by Derbyshire County Council. The overall route of the canal is protected by a footpath known as the Cuckoo Way. (2) The line of the restored Chesterfield Canal has been extended from Troughbrook Road across derelict land to the south of the chemical works, but further work is awaiting a decision on the building of the proposed Staveley-Brimington bypass. (2) The Chesterfield Canal in Killamarsh parish followed a contour route above the Rother Valley and its line was consequently somewhat circuitous. The section between Bridge Street and Belkane Lock has largely been built over and is extremely difficult to follow. The western section between the canal bridge adjacent to the station (SMR 8710) and Bridge Street is partly in water and partly filled in but is easy to trace. From Belkane Lock eastwards to the Rotherham Road a substantial section is in water, and the area immediately west of Rotherham Road is a former wharf serving Norwood Colliery (now an industrial estate) where the copings have been restored. The section to the east of Rotherham Road adjacent to the Angel Inn is in water up to the base of the Norwood flight of locks. The flight of locks and the tunnel entrance are in South Yorkshire. Despite the fact that a large section of the canal has been lost beneath housing estates there are 'Cuckoo Way' towpath signs throughout the village, but the Bridge Street- Sheffield Road section is a maze of alleyways and jitties. (2) Within a mile of the town centre at the tail end of Ford Lane lock, the canal encounters the local coal industry at Lockford Coaling Staithes. Lockford Colliery was aquired by George Stechenson who had taken up residence at Tapton House. Prior to the constuction of the North Midland Railway, coal was taken to the staithes, then slid down wooden chutes into a waiting Cuckoo narrow boat below. (3) 'Glasshouse, west of Dixons Lock, north to Glasshouse sandpits and glassworks. Opened, 1817. Owner, Dixons. Traffic, Lynn sand. Staveley Works, below Staveley Works, on original line of canal, north-north-east to to old pits. Traffic, coal. Inkersall, from south west side of Staveley Works, south to Inkersall Collieries and Commonspot Cokeyard. Opened, 1817. Traffic, coal and coke. Norbiggs, from a side cut of the canal at Norbiggs Wharf, east to Norbiggs Colliery. Opened, 1817. Traffic, coal. Spinkhill, near Renishaw Furnaces, north-east to Comberwood Ironstone Mine and Norwood Colliery. Opened, 1811. Traffic, ironstone and coal. Eckington, east of Eckington, west to Bramley Moor Collieries, south west of Eckington. Traffic, coal. Killamarsh, near west end of long Norwood Tunnel, south-south-east to Highmoor Collieries, south of Killamarsh. Traffic, coal'. (4) In 2017 trial trenching in a canal basin identified the well preserved remains of a very narrow narrow boat, a cuckoo boat, and two maintenance boats. (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Roffey, J. 1989. The Chesterfield Canal.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 2000. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. Part V. North East Derbyshire. pp. 15-34.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Leming, D. 1990. Coal and its influence on the Chesterfield Canal.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Baxter, B. 1966. Stone Blocks and Iron Rails.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Rawson, C, Wright, W and S Warren. 2017. Interim Archaeological Excavation Report: The Lost Cuckoo Project, Bellhouse Basin, Bellhouse Lane, Staveley, Chesterfield.



Grid reference Centred SK 42752 76967 (8332m by 10057m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR5105
  • EDR3428

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Record last edited

Feb 26 2024 2:28PM

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