Wednesday , 20 September 2017
Wow .. Look What's Happening...

Map & Description

Basic map 7

To view a more detailed map please click the button below. This will take you to the website of Waterways Routes who support canal restoration organisations by providing free maps of canals to be restored. These are available as printable PDFs or Memory-Map’s QCT format for use on computers, Androids and iPhones/iPads with real-time tracking (like sat-nav) on GPS enabled devices. The Derby Canal map is contained in a grouping with the Cromford, Nottingham and Nutbrook Canals and in the PDF version can be found on pages 9 to 14. Waterways Routes also offer a full range of cruising guides, maps and DVDs covering the whole canal network.

Click for more detailed map options

The Derby & Sandiacre Canal ran from the river Trent at Swarkestone and climbed through 3 locks to the Trent & Mersey Canal and Swarkestone Junction on the Trent & Mersey canal thence to Sandiacre on the Erewash canal, with a line to Little Eaton where it met a plateway.

There was also a branch to the river Derwent in the city centre, which enabled boats to reach the Silk Mill and the mills and foundries further up the river to Darley Abbey.

There were 9 locks on the main line, 5 on the Little Eaton line and one on the river branch and they were built to accommodate Trent barges, the dimensions being roughly 90ft. long by 15ft. wide with varying depths. Of the total, 6 are still in existence, albeit buried. The 3 locks at Swarkestone fell into disuse early on and are buried in the garden of a house in Swarkesone.

A memorable feature was the crossing of the Derwent in Derby on the level, with a long towpath footbridge and weir. The weir is still there close to the Council House.

The branch to Little Eaton had an interchange with a horse-drawn plateway which utilised possibly the world’s first system of containerisation.

There was a 3 level bridge at the cattle market, the 2nd level of which was one of the 1st cast iron aqueducts in the world. and a wide variety of goods including, coal, charcoal. chert, and milk bound for Cadbury’s at Bourneville were carried.

Competition from railways and roads led to a general decline and was closed to traffic in 1946 and abandoned in 1964, to facilitate the building of the M1 motorway.

The line of the canal is 75% intact and has a multi user trail along it; this will be retained when the canal is re-instated.

See Key Features for more.

Leisure and Recreation on the Derby Canal.

No building has taken place on the line of the canal except in the city centre. The path which is there is suitable for both walking and cycling. Disabled access is available from; Swarkestone to Anglers Lane, Spondon, from Station Road, Borrowash to the Ockbrook and from Derby Road Bridge, Draycott to Sandiacre Junction. The whole route will be accessible to all when the canal is restored.

There are many walks and cycle rides complimenting the canal route and leaflets are available in local tourist offices and Long Eaton Town Hall. The Midshires Way long distance footpath crosses the route at Breaston and the long term aim is a route from Derby to Nottingham completely traffic free.


 The Derby canal route is a wildlife haven, from the heavily wooded stretch at Swarkestone/Chellaston through urban Derby to the open countryside from Borrowash to Breaston. There is a great variety of wildlife to be seen. Foxes, badgers, rabbits, hares, and weasels abound and in the short stretch at Borrowash which has been dug out, there have been sightings of kingfishers and herons. Other wildlife known to live here are smooth newts, frogs and fish and not too faraway there are water voles. The lay of the land at Draycott lends itself to ground nesting birds such as the skylark. Lapwings are also common here. The society has planted a traditional hedge at Draycott, a great attraction for the wildlife.  A large proportion of the original hawthorn hedgerow is still on the canal, providing food and shelter. The Society does it’s own hedgelaying.


Although the Derby is not in water, both ends of the canal can be reached and explored from the Trent & Mersey or the Erewash canals.

Commercial Use of the Canal.

 It is envisaged that full commercial use of the canal will be made, particularly for carrying waste to reclamation sites nearby e.g. organic matter to Stanton Ironworks site on the Erewash canal.



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  1. Hi,
    Is there a better map for the proposed route? I’d like to see where the route might go on something like a Google map overlay or an image better than the sketch image you have on the site.



    • Chris Reesfitzpatrick


      Thank you for your comment, we acknowledge that the map on the site isn’t the best possible one. We are currently investigating licencing of a map that will give a clearer view. If you have a specific question please come back to us.

      The Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust

  2. This is probably a daft question, but how will a boat get to the Silk Mill on the Derwent – a possibility referred to in your Derby Arm animation – past the weir?

    • Chris Reesfitzpatrick

      As part of the work to make the River Derwent navigable up to the Silk Mill a lock will be required to allow boats to pass the weir. A flood lock will also be required between the Derby Arm boat lift to accommodate varying water levels.

  3. How will the canal by-pass the M1 at Sandiacre?

    • Chris Reesfitzpatrick

      The Outline Planning Application detailed two possible solutions:
      1. Boring a new tunnel beneath the M1 at approximately 45 degrees to the line of the M1. Whilst this will be the costliest solution it will have a clear line of sight for boaters.
      2. Deviating from the original route and constructing a canal channel alongside Longmore Road. This has the disadvantages of needing to narrow the road and footpaths and will require a tight bend east of the motorway with no clear line of sight for approaching boaters.
      A decision will be taken when funding is available to progress a detailed planning application for this section. It is worth noting that the Highways Agency raised no technical objection to either solution at outline planning stage.

  4. Hi,

    Could you tell me who owns the canal land in Breaston near the Navigation Pub. Is it owned by the Trust or will it have to be purchased.

    Les Haines

    • Chris Reesfitzpatrick

      Whilst much of the route of the Derby Canal is in ‘public’ ownership including the Trust, the Local Authorities and Sustrans the cycling charity, with whom agreements are in place, there are some parcels of privately owned land. Ultimately we will have to come to an arrangement with the private owners to utilise or purchase their land. None of the private owners lodged any objections in respect of the Trust obtaining outline planning consent. Whilst the Trust at the time of the planning application identified all the private owners it would not be appropriate to list them on the Trust’s web site.

  5. Hi! Two questions if I may…

    I’m curious as to how the restored canal will get across Harvey Road, Bracken’s Lane and Boulton Lane in Derby. Have you made any decisions, or have any ideas, on that yet?

    After leaving Chellaston and passing under the A50 near Swarkestone will it lock up to the level of the Trent and Mersey then go under the bridge and through the boat club to join the T&M or will it continue on the level after passing under the A50 and join the T&M below Swarkestone lock?

    Keep up the good work!


    • Chris Reesfitzpatrick

      Both the original 1993 IWA and 1999 WS Atkins feasibility reports covered getting under Harvey Road, Bracken’s Lane and Boulton Lane and we continue to work to those assumptions. A new lock will be created between London Road and Harvey Road to lower the water level prior to passing beneath Harvey Road, Bracken’s Lane and Boulton Lane; Harvey Road and Boulton Lane will still need to be lifted to allow the canal to pass beneath but the bridge summits will be much lower than they originally were. Bracken’s Lane which is slightly higher than the other two roads will not need to be raised further. Detailed planning as to how these bridges will be installed is yet to take place.

      Shelton Lock will not be restored as a working lock.

      The A50 is too low to allow the restored Derby Canal to pass beneath it and join the Trent and Mersey at the original junction; a new junction will be created below Swarkestone Lock. This also means that restoration will not disturb the boat club.

      Thank you for the question.

  6. Dear Sir / Madam, how do you get to The Derby Arm by car, where is the nearest car park? is there a postcode i could use, many thanks, P Hawley

    • The Derby Arm is currently a concept. The Trust is actively developing a detailed business plan to secure the proposed site and seek the necessary funding for its construction. The site is at the extremity of former derelict railway sidings and is in the process of being redeveloped. If the Trust is successful in securing funding the development will include a visitor centre and car parking facilities. The Trust is working on a more detailed page to appear on this website.

  7. Will Springfield Ave . Long Eaton be re rooted at the junction with Longmore road Long Eaton as the line of the canal passes right next to it?

    • The answer is we are not yet sure.

      There are currently three options under consideration:
      · A swing bridge will be installed – locals feel this would be useful in limiting the rat run by delaying traffic when a boat passes through.
      · The canal may be dug deeper to allow a fixed bridge to be in place
      · The road may be closed and the exit from Springfield diverted (probably for emergency vehicles only) to join Longmoor Rd by the Bridge Inn.

      What would be your preferred option and why? Please let us know.

  8. I can see this route proving very popular to boaters. How many boats an hour will be able to pass through the proposed lift and how does this compare to other lifts?

    • Hi Nick,

      The Derby Arm is proposed to take 2 narrowboats every 15 minutes which is a few minutes faster than the Falkirk Wheel.


      Emma Keeling
      DSCS Web & Social Media Guru

  9. Hi Emma, Our hobby is walking the canals and currently have done approx.1200 miles. We picked up a leaflet re-Derby canal on our last walk. I plot the routes on Google Earth and have followed the Derby on there. Some parts are difficult to follow through the town area. Is the route way marked?or is there a route map.

    • Hi Fred,

      We have just had assistance in a better map from Waterwayroutes – take a look at this page on the site and “More Detailed Map Options” where you can download a PDF of the route which is more in depth.

      If you need any further support drop our Chairman Chris ( and I am sure he will help with the Derby area.

      Emma Keeling
      Web & Social Guru

    • Hi Fred,

      We have just had assistance in a better map from Waterwayroutes – take a look at this page on the site and “More Detailed Map Options” where you can download a PDF of the route which is more in depth.

      If you need any further support drop our Chairman Chris ( and I am sure he will help with the Derby area.

      Emma Keeling
      Web & Social Guru

  10. What’s the timescale for the canal starting from Sandiacre up the towpath towards longmoor lane and is all the funding in place? Who is responsible for the care taking of this land now?

    • We are expecting to start the excavation of the bottom lock by the end of the year. We have negotiated to take over the canal path from the County Council. The return of the land was promised to us when the land was originally transferred to the Council in the 1970s and the Council are honouring that promise, but the legal transfer is taking some time. Funding is agreed in principle, but we need to sort out the ownership and get final figures for the work. The work has been made more complex as the site of the bottom lock chamber was used by the County as a land fill site and therefore needs to be handled with care by professionals who are currently finalising their quotations.

      As the ownership of the land is currently in the hands of the Council they remain responsible for the maintenance, grass cutting, etc. In these financially constrained times maintenance is likely to be only grass cutting. When we take it over we will assume responsibility for its upkeep. We hope that will take place in the next month or so.

      It is our intention to hold a local meeting to update people when we have the details above finalised and to accommodate suggestions. As a volunteer charity we welcome the interest and help of our neighbours and other interested parties as we believe the project will enhance the area.

      Chris Madge

  11. Hi,
    I regularly walk along the Spondon stretch footpath and am curious as to whether there was a lock around the junction with Anglers Lane. I notice the house by the bridge is called Keepers Cottage so assume there was a lock nearby? Is a lock I this area in the plans and if so where would it be located?
    Is there a timescale for completion of the full stretch including the Derby Arm and the River Derwent navigation to the Silk Mill?

    • Thanks for your interest.

      I’m sorry to disappoint, but there was no lock here and we don’t plan to introduce one in the restoration. The area along this stretch was reasonably level with the last lock on this stretch before Derby city being just west of Station Road in Borrowash.

      The Trust’s stated aim is to deliver the restoration as soon as possible. Any guesstimate is subject to disappointment, but we are looking at a 15 year timescale. The pace will depend on funding available, the river section will need substantial discussions around the Derby Arm development site and the protection of habitat, etc on the river, but could then be delivered within 3 years. We have seen considerable set backs on the simple task of restoring Sandiacre bottom lock when we found hazardous material had been deposited. However we are hopeful that other sections will be more straight forward – perhaps the Draycott kilometre next year?

      Chris Madge

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