Dear Members of the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust

Welcome to the latest edition of the newsletter;

Welcome to the monthly update and thanks to David for holding the fort during the transition from Society to the Trust. I’m pleased to say that it has all happened now and took place really smoothly. It feels like the end of an era, but it is good that the role shuffling has happened now that we see life starting to return to normal. I for one welcome the chance to relax over a pint after Sunday working parties – just hope the weather improves a bit!

Working Parties

The last month has seen a lot of progress on the ground with working parties back in force. The works at Anglers Lane is almost complete. It started as a project to clear some dangerous cracked willows, which then unearthed rubbish accumulated over many years including asbestos. Happily the adjacent allotment group have financed the removal and we have now cleared the area. Plans are afoot to replant with hawthorn whips in the autumn, meantime a few bug hotels have been established and the team led by Chris Shaw have left some minions to look after the site.

In other areas we have been back at Borrowash and Draycott catching up after the lockdown. Work has continued apace at the Cottages with the final planning conditions agreed enabling the external stairs to be installed and work put in hand to complete the car park. With contractors now on site to undertake other groundworks to the back of the property and the first two cottages being painted inside we are nearing completion of the cottages themselves.
We hope to have completed second fix in a couple of months and are looking to appoint agents to find and manage tenants.

Attention has now turned to the café area and the roof is almost complete on the outside loos with work underway on the café kitchen and servery. Fire regs mean we can’t keep the original floors there as hoped so there’s a bit more building work to do there to install new floors. However even the café won’t be long and we hope to have it ready this year. We have been delighted by the interest shown by the public, not only in the work we are doing, but also from some individuals interested in occupying the cottages or running the café. It is comforting to know there’s such interest. As we won’t be selling the cottages now we are raising supporters loans and are well on our way to full funding this way and avoiding bank fees and high interest rates.

If you are interested in helping contact our treasurer Derek on for details.

Draycott Canal

Many of you will have seen a lack of progress on the Draycott section of canal since January. This now awaits receipt of funding from Network Rail. We expect this to restart in June and still plan to complete by the year end, however we think that the water voles are enjoying Draycott so much they are breeding fast. We hope we’ll be able to accommodate them all alongside the Derby Road section once complete and Eddy is busy with detailed surveys so we can plan the relocation carefully.

Lock Restorations

David has been busy organising the first WRG visit after Lockdown. So in the first week of August we expect a final visit to complete Borrowash Lock chamber. We are hopeful we may encourage them back again in 2022 to look at Sandiacre Bottom Lock. This is now coming to the top of our priority list. Good progress has been made with Severn Trent Water contacts and we await with bated breath a quote to divert the sewer.

We have been looking at funding for this and the subsequent restoration of the lock chamber and bridge. We have been fortunate to be promised a bequest which we believe will cover the cost of diversion. Funding for the subsequent works should then be reasonably straight forward. If we can achieve this it will not only clear up an eyesore, but also provide us with the first stretch of boatable waterway connected to the network. Under the rules of STW it is a large diversion and we wouldn’t be allowed to manage it ourselves so fingers crossed that the quote is manageable.

Derby River Boat

On the subject of boats – We have been delayed in the launch of Outram. The short explanation is that following legal advice the Council have decided that they need to create a Navigation Authority for the river and that we also need to prove that the operation will be safe and that we won’t damage any part of the bridges or other river structures. It is most frustrating to be delayed in this way, but they have now appointed someone to accelerate the issues and we have been given access to further funds to deal with the additional work. Will we launch this year? Watch this space. As a fall back we are considering working on the Erewash in the meantime.

As you’ll know all local authorities are keen to revitalise their city centres following the epidemic and Derby city is keen to open up the river as an attraction. We have been consulted at a high level and have proposed ideas included in the diagram below. We have a broad promise to fund a study by Atkins on these and other ideas and are hopeful that we may have a means to promote the lock through the Long Bridge weir. So watch this space as it could mean a significant and very visible step forward in a few years time.

Land Purchases

We now own all of the Spondon stretch (Wheeldon’s) and a stretch between Breaston and the M1 and are negotiating a further stretch from Wheeldon’s to the Spondon Bourne and between the Swarkestone Boat Club and the A50. The plan at Swarkestone is to use the original line to transfer water to the Chellaston line north of the A50. We are well aware that we have done very little to restore our north/south leg and plan to undertake forestry work in the autumn. We are looking for volunteers in this area who want to help with maintenance and in particular we need a local champion to help us develop and implement plans for this leg. Please contact if you want to know what would be involved.


I was pleased to introduce the last social meeting on Zoom—”London’s lost route to the sea” – the Wey and Arun. We had lots of members attending and were well entertained. The next meetings will be as follows:

  • May 25th – a talk on the Hereford and Gloucester Restoration
  • June 22nd – The Montgomery Canal Restoration
  • July 27th – A Guided walk along our own canal between Breaston and Draycott, including a visit to the Draycott cottages

If you would like to see the presentation I gave on the Derby you can access it on youtube via this link:

Stay safe and thanks as always for your support.

Chris Madge