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.


John H said...

One or two people have ventured into the tunnel by canoe. In the annals of fanaticism this has to up there with the best...

Unknown said...

Hi Jonathan,

Appreciate your comments re the un-navigable condition of the Cromford Canal date back almost three years but perhaps you might like to visit us again.

Following over £300k of dredging by waterway owner Derbyshire County Council in 2013 and the purchase of a heritage narrow boat by The Friends of the Cromford Canal, one can now travel from Cromford Wharf through to Leawood Pump House, either motored along by electro-hydraulic power (installed to allow us to cruise on this SSSI) or hauled behind a horse on high days and holidays.

Details of this Spring's programme and ticket prices are at

We'd be pleased to welcome you aboard. And we'll be welcoming Dan Rogerson aboard very soon, too - our trip boat Birdswood was purchased with the assistance of a DEFRA grant and he's coming to see us in April.

Nic Barfield
PR Officer, Friends of the Cromford Canal.