The Friends of Cromford Canal received planning permission to extend the Cromford Canal to Stoney Lane, Brinsley in Nottinghamshire and have now started the second pre-work stage for the Beggarlee extension. John Guyler reports…
WATERWAY Recovery Group volunteers returned to work on the Cromford Canal’s Beggarlee extension in November with the aim of completing the 900mm chamber, the pipe headwalls and the gully run-off to the Erewash.
But, with the weather in the previous weeks as wet as it was, only the top chamber cover and one of the pipe headwalls were in place by the end of the weekend.
Their previous visit concentrated on the 900mm headwall chamber. Three of the original walls (back and two sides) of the headwall structure were used to make the chamber, these walls having been constructed in 1981 when the A610 road was built.
A new fourth wall, at the front, had been constructed by the WRG volunteers; a pipe had already been fixed into place joining the original pipe in the headwall and this protruded through the new chamber wall. Benching out was finished, this is at the exit of the pipe and is a form in the concrete which follows the contour of the pipe to be fixed; this supports the attached pipe.
The gully from the chamber was dug out by digger, gravel was laid and the level of flow established. The pipes were then lowered and laid on the gravel by the digger and with a great deal of effort by FCC and WRG workers, fitted to the other pipes previously put in place, progressing along to meet the pipework from the 600mm chamber, which had been laid several months previously.
That was as much as could be done by the WRG due to a delay caused by the non-delivery of the precast top slab of the 900mm inspection chamber and the two precast pipe headwalls.
The FCC volunteers were going to put the final 600mm pipe precast headwall in place on the day after WRG left, but as always something about ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ came into play. The 22-ton 360-digger wouldn’t start, so it went back to the hire base without completing the task.
At the time of writing, everything is on hold until the spring, when it is hoped that the WRG may be back and be able to start the next stage, which as yet is undecided.
There are two potential projects being planned but both are in need of paperwork consent from various bodies. Also, there is another problem with regulatory bodies and it seems to apply to councils which the FCC has to work with. When a scheme is reapplied for the next stage, all the people who dealt with the initial applications have moved on to other departments, so new connections have to be established.
Councillors from Broxtowe Borough Council, Nottinghamshire, paid a site visit in September, while WRG volunteers were working, to be shown progress at Beggarlee by FCC chairman David Martin and other FCC trustees. The feedback from the visit was very positive.
A video filmed by a liveaboard boater moored in the Great Northern Basin, just after the very stormy spell, showed the pipes were coping with the high volume of water very well. It is a source of wonder how the old gullies would have coped with the vast amount of water coming through the system.
Langley Mill in Derbyshire is the start of the Cromford Canal, where it joins the Erewash Canal at the Great Northern Basin. The building of the A610 road destroyed the original line of the Cromford, but luckily there was a railway bridge built which allowed a mineral railway to pass below the road, which is now to be used for the canal extension.