Work Starts Restoring Canal-Side Cottages

Volunteers with Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust have started preparation work to restore six derelict cottages overlooking a stretch of disused canal in Draycott which the Trust is also planning to restore. The volunteers are under the leadership of Project Manager for the Trust Scott Birkhead, a local, recently retired builder, and have been clearing up the rubbish that has accumulated over decades at the site and cottages. The Trust bought the cottages last year and have already erected scaffolding ready for work to start on stripping down damaged elements of the structure and roofs. Restoration work will then be undertaken by contractors which the Trust are currently sourcing, supported where appropriate by the volunteers.

The first phase of the project – which will be the development of the eastern wing containing three cottages – is due to be completed by the end of 2018. The final phase due for completion in Spring 2019 – will be the creation of a base for the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust, a small heritage centre, tea rooms and public toilet facilities. The £600,000 project will access commercial loan funding which would be repaid from the proceeds of  the sale of the cottages. The on-going income generated by the tea rooms, which will be operated by a third party, will fund further canal restoration.

The original building was built alongside the canal in the 1820s as a mill for making cotton thread.  It was then converted into small cottages for tenants who worked at local mills before housing farm workers and then falling into disrepair over the past 30 years.

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 to enhance the local area for residents and  visitors. The Trust has so far raised public pledges of £77,000 towards its £100,000 target to restore the canal. These will be honoured once match funding has been secured for the £352,000 project which will focus on leisure activities from canoeing to fishing as well as a re-laid foot and cycle path and designated grass track for horse riders.

Chris Madge, chair of Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust’s Restoration Committee, explained: “It is very exciting to see scaffolding erected and our committed team of volunteers working hard every weekend to prepare for the building work to start. These cottages are some of the very few remaining pieces of the Derby Canal heritage and the feedback both from contractors that we have spoken to and from the local community is very positive. We are particularly grateful to Bloc Digital in Derby’s Derwent Business Centre who have created a wonderful visual of how the canal side development will look which has really brought our long-held vision to life.”