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Company of Proprietors of the Erewash Canal in the Counties of Derby and Nottingham


Records of the Company of Proprietors of the Erewash Canal in the Counties of Derby and Nottingham: loading permit 1817.



Reference code


Administrative /​ Biographical history

The Company of Proprietors of the Erewash Canal was formed to carry coal from the area, across the River Trent and down the Loughborough Navigation. The engineer of the Loughborough Navigation, John Smith, surveyed a line in 1776 from the Trent just above the mouth of the River Soar (the start of the Loughborough Navigation) up to Langley Mill. The Act was passed on 30 April 1777, supported by Leicester and opposed by Nottingham. John Varley of the Chesterfield Canal was appointed as engineer and all 11¾ miles of the canal were fully completed by December 1779, with 14 broad locks. William Cradock, already clerk and treasurer for the Loughborough Navigation, was appointed the same in the Erewash company, supported by a managing committee of seven. The construction of the Nottingham Canal in 1792 threatened the gains made by the Erewash Canal through the increased trade brought by the Cromford Canal. The Erewash therefore tried to gain direct access to Nottingham, attempting the Beeston Cut (later accomplished by the Trent Navigation) but was blocked by the Nottingham company. In 1793, the Erewash Canal then promoted the Trent Canal scheme to continue the Trent and Mersey to Beeston and Nottingham, but the scheme was altered to their disadvantage. The Nutbrook Canal joined the Erewash in 1795 in Staunton and the Derby Canal joined in 1796 at Sandiacre, increasing traffic and water supply. In 1834 the Leicester and Swannington Railway was completed, bringing Leicestershire coal into direct competition with Derbyshire coal, causing Erewash revenue to decline. The railway also inspired Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coalowners in 1844 to build the Erewash Valley Railway, opened in 1847 from Long Eaton to Codnor Park. The canal had to reduce toll rates but trade still fell, with the downward trend only slightly relieved by the opening in 1846 of what were to become the Staunton ironworks. In 1863, there was talk of a canal merger between the Midlands and London, and in 1894 toll agreements were made by the Grand Junction Canal company with the Leicester and Loughborough navigations and Erewash Canal as part of a plan to develop the Derbyshire coal trade to London. In 1932 the new Grand Union Canal bought the Erewash Canal, together with the Loughborough and Leicester navigations, in another attempt to secure the route to the Trent and Derbyshire coalfields. The new owners founded the Erewash Canal Carrying Company in 1932 and the Erewash continued to carry traffic until 1952. In 1962 the section between Langley Mill and Ilkeston was officially abandoned but the whole canal is used by pleasure craft. For further information on the Erewash Canal see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's 'The Canals of the East Midlands'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.

Associated material

[See also: BW58 for records of the Erewash Canal during other periods of ownership]

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