Ilkeston - Locks On The Erewash Canal
w/e 20 August 2006
All 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.

Hallam Fields Lock

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

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.
Green's Lock

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.
Potter's Lock

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.
Barker's Lock

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.
Stenson's Lock

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.

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