The Peak District

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Winter 2008

Richard Dean

Richard Dean looks at waterway projects that were left on the drawing board

By its 1794 Act, the Peak Forest Canal Company was empowered to build a canal up to Chapel Milton in Derbyshire, with a railway beyond to the limestone quarries. However, it opted to build a waterway only as far as Bugsworth where the level ran out, with a tramway for all the remainder. In the same year, on the other side of the Peak District, the Cromford Canal had opened. It was recognised that a canal link between the two would improve east–west communication, and much shorten the Manchester to London route at a time when the Trent & Mersey Canal was the nearest alternative. As a first step, an extension canal from Cromford to Bakewell was surveyed in 1802. It was to rise 108ft from the Lea Wood Branch to the summit level, through a 2,460 yard tunnel to above Matlock and on through Darley Dale and Rowsley to a terminus south of Bakewell at a cost of £60,000. It did not progress, but was revived in 1810 as part of a much more ambitious scheme extending right across …

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