Dear Members of the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust

Welcome to the latest edition of the newsletter;

I hope everyone is in festive mood and ready for some good family time. Let’s hope Omicron doesn’t get in the way and that you are all safely immunity boosted.
We still have the same old projects continuing and with pretty reasonable support even as the weather turns. Of course those at the Cottages can now benefit from central heating – well in some of the units at least.

The Derby Riverboat

We continue to progress the project. Our concentration is now on getting a place to board passengers in place and training volunteers. As far as the boarding pontoon is concerned we have applied for EA permission, but have been notified that work on the river bed must be restricted to two days between now and March, with no work then until mid June. This is to avoid upsetting the spawning of various fish in the river. I believe that the fish ladder installed with the hydro station just downstream has encouraged salmonoids up river which has extended the spawning season. This will add to the already considerable cost of getting piling equipment into the river to undertake test drills of the river bed and then the actual piling. We are therefore looking to see if there may be alternatives that will contain the cost and more importantly allow us to operate from Spring as planned. Watch this space!

In the meantime training runs with the volunteer boatmen are now planned to effect training and en-sure we know where to go, how to avoid other traffic and what to do in an emergency. We hope to have completed these by Christmas. Those watching the river water levels will have noticed that there has been a variation of around a metre since launching and sometimes the rise is within a few days. We have already enhanced the jetty mooring with wooden piles to ensure the boat can’t ride over the jetty and given the fluctuation the piles have been tested. We hadn’t anticipated the extent of silt deposits in high water, so we are learning all the time. Fortunately the trips will be running in earnest during the summer and the overnight mooring will be a lot further from Darley Weir, so issues should be easily manageable. We are also expecting a review of some onerous conditions of licencing in the next month, which would help us operationally. It would certainly be easier on a canal.
The City of Culture bid is progressing with Derby winning through to the last eight. A decision is expected in Spring next year. This will have a key impact on further use of the river for a marina and river lock.

Sandiacre Bottom Lock

Further progress has been made with Severn Trent and we are now awaiting further progress with a detailed plan and costings by their contractors. Once we have this we can undertake working parties to reduce the cost ahead of contractors undertaking works. We are currently dealing with a dispute over land with a neighbour who has encroached at the top of the lock, but this is going reasonably well and we hope to have recovered the missing land in time for works to commence.

Working Parties

The working parties teams have been super effective and have now completed work at Draycott (including setting up mink traps as part of our plan to protect the water voles), at the Spondon stretch of canal and at Borrowash east and west of Station Road.

This also includes the planting of approaching a thousand trees and shrubs along the line. They are now starting to look at works further afield. We now plan to do some work on tree management at Chellaston, but need local assistance to act as banksmen and keep the public safe. Please let David know at if you could help for an hour or so. There is further work to be undertaken at Breaston on the newly acquired land and an adjacent plot. This will include scrubbing out and path improvement. We will also be looking to get ready at Sandiacre, when we have agreed the works and costs with Severn Trent and recovered the land.

The Cottages

Our first cottage is now having carpets fitted ready for agents photographs and offering for rental. We are pleased to acknowledge the help of Chaddesden Carpets and Furniture in the supply and fitting of carpets at short notice. The second cottage is close behind with carpeting to finish off planned after Christmas.

Brian has completed landscaping under the trees and is currently planting hawthorn whips along the boundary with road and canal. With the block paving being laid in December we believe renters will be keen to move in as soon as they are ready. Cottage No 3 is now awaiting staining of stairs and completing the kitchen fitting, so it isn’t far off completion. As we have all three cottages heated it has made working through the cold spell much easier. The café is plastered and painting well advanced. We passed the sound test first time – Phew! The outside toilet block is tiled and awaiting sanitary fitting and door hanging, we have a gas connection despite the mayhem of the gas market, so we await radiators being fitted here as well over the next month. In fact things are progressing so well we anticipate holding our March meeting here. Watch this space and keep your diaries clear if you’d like to see progress in person.

The Packet

As promised the Packet has been distributed thanks to the efforts of Doug Flack and Peter Warming-ham. I’m sure they would appreciate your feedback.

Members Meetings

I’m sorry to report that we had a very poor attendance at our monthly meetings, with single figures at the December meeting. We don’t know why the attendance is poor—could it be the topics, the venue, the day or is Covid Omicron putting people off? We’d love some feedback to
We have reviewed current plans and reluctantly cancelled the talks in January and February. We will plan to hold a meeting in March and are considering a change back to Tuesdays and moving to the Cottages meeting room. At present we expect to be entertained by Bob Williams from the Lichfield Canal on Weds 2nd March from 7.30pm, but again watch for updates in this monthly report or on our Facebook updates. Of course all these meetings are planned to be in person, but that very much depends on government Covid advice. With this proviso, I look forward to seeing you soon at one of the upcoming meetings or at a working party.

Chris Madge