Dear Members of the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust

Welcome to the latest edition of the newsletter;

I hope you are all enjoying “freedom” and haven’t suffered from the latest challenge of being “pinged”. Sarah Cresswell, one of our key and very active volunteers, was organising the members meeting at Draycott when she was pinged. She tested clear and just managed to come out of isolation in time to welcome visitors. Phew!

Working Parties

Lots of activity of course in all the usual places. Waterway Recovery Group have confirmed they will attend and so David has led his teams to work in manicuring the lawns around Borrowash bottom lock in readiness for the visit. Hopefully they’ll be so impressed that they work twice as hard and fast, whilst we need to keep socially distant from the team it’s OK to admire them in action from a distance!

He’s also had a team at Spondon tidying the towpath there. It’s strange that I’ve had a couple of conversations and, despite the large sign, people don’t seem to recognise it as a section of canal. Perhaps we need to get a boat on it to get the recognition. Gary has continued at Sandiacre and has removed a lot more soil and a large tree root, so we continue to improve our understanding of the lock wall structure. Severn Trent Water have been accommodating around the options on sewer relocation and we remain optimistic we may reduce the total cost quoted to date, but it will take a few weeks to move us forward to an agreed (and safe for volunteers) approach.

The Cottages

We’ve made still more progress with skirting and windowboards fitted and internal door installation started. We just need tiling (they’ve started), stairs and bathrooms to be completed and kitchens installed—and snagging of course. We’re very close now.

You can see that the car park has moved on con-siderably. The base layers and sleeper walls are in place awaiting the final tarmac during August. We’ve started looking at using the pile of bricks (that have moved much too frequently over the last few years) to form a path around the front of the building. Hopefully if the weather holds we can start the process in August. Our volunteers will re-ally miss those bricks!

Draycott Canal

At last we have completed the first phase of the canal build. The paths have been opened up again and barring planting up we now await the next step, which is trap-ping the water voles. The contractors on site have had to reconstruct the moorings when they realised the slab was not quite level, so that lost them a few days. It has been a big trial getting the vole fence in place and taken longer than expected, but it is there now. I don’t think it adds much to the area and it will be good when we can take it down again—when the work is complete. With the delay to planting it is remarkably tight to get the area ready for water voles, or more accurately to persuade the experts that there will be sufficient growth. Natural England tend not to take risks.

So we have looked at the impact of a delay –  capture would wait until next March with the final works taking place in Spring. The major concern with this would be avoiding a re-peat of last year’s flood, so we have looked to lower the original bunds thereby lowering the water level in the Derby Road section and blocking the Hopwell Road ditch to ensure water flows from most of the inlets are diverted straight under Derby Road. This should mean we are ready whichever date applies.

Derby Developments

In the last update I mentioned Mike Wingfield’s guest appearance at the recent Derby Property Show. If you want to see how it went you can look it up online at

Feel free to digest the update on developments in the city, but you’ll find Mike’s appearance from 1 hour 19 mins and a plug from the Derby CC CEO at 1 hour 53 mins. We now need to keep the dialogue moving.
We’ve had continued drive and support from Ross McCristal the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at DCC and the Councillor interest for our project has increased further. We were pleased to brief Councillor Roulstone at a recent Trustee meeting and gain her support in pushing matters forward. It is obvious that the current Cabinet has our project firmly in its sights.  However, while there may be political willpower behind us, we continue to struggle with the list of “safety” requirements. Council officers have commissioned a new safety and operations assessment, undertaken by an independent consultant. This includes advice to get booms on the weirs and a formal sonar calibration of the river bottom.

Given these extra requirements it may only be possible to launch the boat this year, with paying passengers unlikely to be travelling before Spring 2022. Given this latest turn of events and delay we are now looking to move the boarding point upstream of Exeter Bridge. This has the benefit of reducing risk around Exeter bridge and the weirs. This has always been our longer term location for boarding and overnight mooring and provides benefits for us on operational matters and security. We now have a Rolls Royce group getting this organised.

We will keep working to deliver the benefit for Derby as the city bids to become City of Culture for 2025.


Our final meeting before the August break was a very well supported tour of the Draycott works. We had anticipated including Breaston, but when numbers booked in rose above 80 we realised we needed to focus the guides and get reorganised. Thanks to Sarah, who took hold of the organisation and made it happen. I know from comments on the day and feedback afterwards that visitors were most impressed by what has been achieved so far at the cottages and with the new stretch of canal.
Even the rain didn’t seem to depress the numbers. After the previous pre-pandemic showround it was certainly a pleasure to have firm floors and a safer route, even if we conducted it in masks. Thank you for all the compliments.


This is our last advance notice of the AGM, which will be held on Wednesday 11th August from 7.30pm. We will meet in person at the Royal Oak in Ockbrook, but if you’d rather not brave a physical meeting we will also broadcast over Zoom. We’ve been trialling options on this and whilst the sound quality may not be optimum we are keen to try it out. However, you must notify us of your intention to attend without delay. We need to manage numbers in the function room and provide a Zoom log in address and without replies we can do neither.
We have also been asked to consider a change of venue for future physical meetings. We will organise a vote at the AGM on a proposal to relocate meetings to the Royal Oak in Ockbrook rather than the Coach and Horses in Draycott. The Royal Oak provides a better space, but we would need to move our meeting date to first Wednesdays in the month. If you cannot make the AGM feel free to email me with your views so we can add your voice to the AGM attendees. Email me at
This is also advance notice that we will be publicising our project more as the Covid restrictions are lifted. There’s not much of the summer left, but we aim to be at Long Eaton carnival on Saturday 18th September. We’d love to see you there, especially if you can help on the stall—full training will be offered—you just need to encourage people to support us.

I look forward to seeing you soon at one of the upcoming meetings.
Stay safe and thanks as always for your support.

Chris Madge