Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust have bought six derelict cottages overlooking a stretch of disused canal in Draycott that it is planning to restore.

The cottages are at the start of the Draycott ‘Golden Mile’ between Hopwell Road and Derby Road which will be the first stretch of the former 13 mile waterway that the Trust plans to restore into a visitor attraction. Detailed plans and feasibility studies will now be drawn up for the future use of the cottages near Hopwell Road which have cost £175,000 to buy.

Members of the Trust and local councillors celebrate the acquisition of the Six Cottages at the start of the Draycott ‘Golden Mile’

Initial proposals include creating a multi-use development including an information centre about the history of and future plans for the restoration of the canal. The buildings will also be the for the Trust as well as heritage and leisure businesses and two cottages could be converted into domestic dwellings to raise revenue alongside funding from commercial development loans and, potentially, grants.

Meanwhile, for the Draycott ‘Golden Mile’ of canal, the Trust needs to demonstrate public support and is appealing for pledges totalling £100,000.  This will enable the Trust to then apply for grant funding to complete the £352,000 canal project. Once completed, the ‘Golden Mile’ will have a slipway to allow canoes and boats access to the water with mooring points at each end.  The canal will be stocked with fish and angling facilities set up.  There will be a hard-standing car park at Hopwell Road for the visitor attraction with a re-laid foot and cycle path as well as a grass track for horse riders.

The cottages are believed to be around 200 years ago and were originally a silk mill winding room – similar to the Derby Silk Mill. They were then accommodation for farm workers on the surrounding land owned by the Cooperative Society before falling into disrepair for more than the last 30 years.

Chris Madge, chair of Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust’s Restoration Committee, explained: “These cottages are some of the very few remaining pieces of the Derby Canal heritage and we have had our eye on the cottages for some time. Having secured the deal, we hope to have some firm plans in place very soon so that we can raise the money for the restoration work. We are working to plot the history of the cottages to add to what we have already gathered about life on and around the canal which will be included in an interactive exhibition at the new visitor centre on this site. ”

“The Draycott Golden Mile appeal is really gathering pace and I believe this is what convinced the previous owner to part with the cottages. Since launching the fund raising appeal in May, we already have nearly £40,000 in pledges which clearly demonstrates public support for our proposals to reinstate the canal itself. We need further pledges of support from individuals, businesses and organisations at this stage which we will then call upon when the funding target has been reached and the 12-week canal construction work is scheduled to begin.”

The original Derby Canal was completed in 1796 but was abandoned in the 1960s and filled in during the 1970s. The Trust was founded in 1993 with the aim of restoring a 13 mile stretch between Derby and Sandiacre to connect to the Trent and Mersey and Erewash Canals.  This would create a 25 mile cruising ring with then access to more than 2,000 miles of navigable waterways across the UK. As well as restoring the canal, the ambitious programme includes creating a short canal stretch through Pride Park with an ‘arm’ lift to take boats down to the river level so that they can then travel up the Derwent to the Silk Mill in the city centre.

Trust volunteers have so far restored bridges at Swarkestone and Borrowash to the demanding heritage standards and undertaken hedge planting along the route so that it can be enjoyed by walkers and cyclists.  The Trust is looking for public donations in the form of pledges for the Draycott ‘Golden Mile’.

The Trust will take details from any supporter and only call for the money when the balance has been raised. Pledge forms are available from: