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Man holding a large plug on a drained section of the Chesterfield Canal


British Water Board worker Bill Thorpe was helping dredge the Chesterfield Canal between Worksop Town Lock and Whitsunday Pie Lock near Retford, removing detritus from the canal. Amid the rubbish was an old coiled chain which he and his colleagues pulled from the water. The chain was in fact attached to a huge plug in the bottom of the canal and when it was removed the water drained away, leaving that section of the canal empty. A Severn Trent Water authority dredger was stranded along with several other boats, including a family of Danish holidaymakers. The plug would have been installed when the canal was built in 1777 but its locations was lost after canal company records were destroyed in a fire in Leeds during the Second World War. A contemporary British Water Board spokesman tried to put a positive spin on events: "For years there has been a history of leaks on this section of canal. Now we know where the water has been going." Workers later posed with the gigantic plug. The British Waterways engineer in charge of the canal at the time was Paul Roberts, formerly of Osberton Lockhouse.


10 August 1978

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