Ilkeston - Locks On
The Erewash Canal
w/e 20 August 2006
this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
The Erewash Canal runs along the eastern edge of
Ilkeston and between Hallam Fields in the south and Cotmanhay
in the north, there are six of the fifteen locks that must be
passed through when travelling the canal's twelve mile length
from the River Trent at Long Eaton to the Langley Mill Basin.
The amount of algae in the canal shows what a good summer we
have been enjoying and in parts, for example at Barker's Lock,
it is difficult to tell from a distance where the grass ends
and the water starts. But we'll start our journey north at Hallam
Fields where the canal is also showing a significant amount of
the aquatic organisms.
We'll follow the route of the canal from Hallam Fields Lock at
the southern end of the town looking at each lock in turn. It
is here at Hallam Fields and also at the next lock northwards
at Gallows Inn, that early workers and their families who arrived
from the Black Country would have disembarked to take up their
employment at the nearby Stanton Ironworks.
Gallows Inn Lock of course is next to the public house of the
same name on Nottingham Road and the lock is seen here from under
the road bridge, the pub being up the steps on the right. This
lock marked the official head of navigation and was designated
as such by the British Transport Commission in 1962. Despite
this the continuation of the canal to Langley Mill was maintained
and kept in water to supply the lower half of the canal.
The next lock used to be called Soughclose Lock (pronounced Suff)
after an area to the east of the canal. As housing development
took place in the early part of the last century, the name of
the area became redundant and the lock took its current name
from Green Lane. A footpath leads to the lane from the lock.
While we were at Green's Lock, the 'Aroamer' passed through and
the two gentlemen seen here operating the lock gates are the
Chairman (left) and Vice Chairman of the Erewash Canal Preservation
and Development Association.
It is only a short distance to the next lock and this too has
undergone a name change. The canal here is very close to the
River Erewash and many years ago Ilkeston Mill was powered by
the river water. The lock on the canal became known as Ilkeston
Mill Lock but is now called Potter's Lock. This name was derived
from the Potter family who lived at The Park before the development
of the Park Farm housing estate. As you can see, the 'Aroamer'
had continued its northward journey and was waiting here to be
raised to the higher level. The gates at the far end of the lock
were replaced earlier this year.
The nearest gates seen here at the next lock, Barker's at the
bottom of Awsworth Road, were also replaced at about the same
time as those at Potter's and the Chairman of the ECPDA told
me that the other gates at Barker's are due to be replaced next
winter. The canal opened in 1779 and enjoyed much success carrying
coal and other goods. By the time of the 1881 census two properties
at nos. 1 and 2 Canal Side were occupied by the Stenson and Dawson
families respectively. William Dawson's occupation was given
as Canal Boat Builder and Dawson's Woodyard and Barge Maker's
Yard was directly to the left of Barker's Lock. It was not until
the middle of the twentieth century that the woodyard fell into
disrepair. I suppose it is a fair assumption that another family
by the name of Barker was prominent in the area too.
The Stenson name from the 1881 census is perpetuated in the final
lock along this section of the canal through Ilkeston which is
a short walk along the towpath from Awsworth Road. At that time
the head of the household was William Stenson and his occupation
was Canal Lock Keeper. Today traffic on the canal is far from
heavy but as we made our way back from Stenson's Lock, the 'Aroamer'
was steadily heading northwards at a leisurely pace along the
still waters of the Erewash Canal.
With thanks to Roy Gregory
who provided some of the information on this page.