Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Cromford Canal
The canal restoration movement has had some remarkable successes, notably the reopening of two trans-Pennine routes - the Rochdale and the Huddersfield Narrow - that were thought to be lost beyond recall as recently as the 1970s.
But projects can regress as well as progress. When I first visited Cromford in the 1980s it was possible to travel some miles from the terminal basin in a horse-drawn narrow boat. But the Cromford Canal Society folded at the end of the decade - I recall there was some scandal but not its details.
The result is that the canal at Cromford has gradually silted up and would now require major dredging before such a boat could use it again.
There are now new efforts to restore this waterway, and it would not be hard to make it navigable from Cromford down to Ambergate and beyond. If this is ever done, it will make a spectacular trip.
The Cromford used to join the main canal system at Great Northern Basin near Langley Mill. The major problem any scheme for restoration throughout would face is Butterley Tunnel, which closed to navigation because of mining subsidence around 1900.
Still, the good news is that there is again an organisation working to bring this restoration about: Friends of the Cromford Canal.