Ashby Canal

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2012

Geoff Pursglove

Geoff Pursglove looks at a wide-beam canal that was created for, but almost destroyed by, coal

The Ashby de la Zouch Canal branches off the Coventry Canal at Marston Junction near Bedworth and winds a level 22 miles to Snarestone. It never went to Ashby, although it was originally planned to, terminating in a then inhospitable area known as the Ashby Woulds, north of the village which was to become Moira. In the Beginning Coal had been mined in the Ashby Woulds and south Derbyshire areas on a small scale since the Middle Ages. Plans for a route to Ashby or Burton upon Trent from the Coventry Canal abounded in the 1770s and 1780s, none getting further than ideas and plans. One fanciful proposal put to the Coventry Canal proprietors indicated a canal route on what we would now think of as approximately the current Ashby Canal route, and which could then be raised by locks, extending to Northampton on the level and thence to London – a precursor to the Grand Junction perhaps? Another, undated but probably around 1775–80 and aimed largely at exploiting the coal reserv…

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