... looking after the Erewash canal since 1968
The Story of ECPDA, the Erewash Canal and Langley Bridge Basins
Erewash Canal Action Committee
As a direct result of a newspaper article published in 1967, local residents, business proprietors, and councilors got together and formed the Erewash Canal Action Committee (ECAC) to combat the threatened closure of the Erewash canal.
Their first meeting was in January 1968 and at their second meeting in February 1968 the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association (ECP&DA) was created to protect the Erewash canal from closure.
In the years since the ECP&DA have been very pro-active in looking after the Erewash Canal and its canal-related historic buildings for the benefit of local residents and visitors to the Erewash Valley. The following catalogs some of the work completed by ECP&DA volunteers over the years.
Restored and maintained buildings of note are the Sandiacre Lock cottages and Tollhouse, now a museum opening usually every third Sunday in the month. The Pump House, the Tollhouse, and Swingbridge at the junction with the old Nottingham and Cromford canals in Langley Mill Basin.
From 1962 the Erewash Canal was officially closed to navigation above Gallows Inn Lock as it was classified as a 'remainder' waterway. Therefore due to lack of boat navigation this section silted up and became increasingly difficult to navigate with a boat. By the time ECP&DA came on the scene in 1968 Langley Bridge Lock was being infilled along with Cromford Canal and Nottingham Canal Great Northern Basin above the lock.
At the 25 April 1968 Committee meeting the Chairman reported that the Easter cruise had been tremendously successful and an excellent turnout of 26 boats had assembled at Gallows Inn on Easter Saturday. the majority of these boats had reached Langley Mill on Easter Sunday, despite defective locks and a lack of dredging.
At the October meeting, it was reported that on 6 October 1968, a work party with divers moved several tons of bricks from behind Stenson's lock gates and that on 19 October 1968 20 boats joined the Erewash Cruise, 12 boats made it to the main road bridge at Langley Mill. A heavy accumulation of weed was experienced at Hallams Field lock caused by Stanton Iron Works holding it back with stop planks. Stanton Iron Works declined an invitation to meet and discuss the problems they were causing at Hallam Fields lock. The Chairman also reminded the Committee that the new Transport Bill effectively closed the Erewash Canal to navigation above Tamworth Bridge.
A number of work parties took place in October 1969 taking advantage of the lowered pound. They were at Langley Mill, near the Eastwood tip, and around the Bridge Inn at Cotmanhay. Dredging was also taking place between Langley Mill main road bridge and Anchor bridge.
At the work party on 22/23 November 1969, a Bond three-wheeler and a three-week-old stolen motorcycle were recovered from the canal. A group from Leicester put in extensive work at Potter's lock. They were supplied with tea and free beer over the weekend by Ilkeston supporters. It was reported at the December 1969 committee meeting that BW was pleased with the condition of the canal and future work may include the Association being asked to clean out repair and rehang the gates on the first lock of the Cromford Canal to enable boats to have access to the basin on the Cromford Canal.
On 26/27 August 1970, a Boat Rally was held at Gallows Inn. Another boat rally was held the following year at Cotmanhay in 1971, work also started in earnest clearing the Langley Mill Basin. Dredging under Langley Bridge in the lock entrance and also along the main Erewash Canal took place to remove the build-up of silt blocking the navigation. Langley Bridge Lock was cleared of debris to enable repairs to the brickwork and clearing the culverts. The area above the lock was dredged to create a basin and give access to the Nottingham Canal.
This work started by digging out the accumulated silt and exposing the damage to the towpath wall. By September 1972 it was reported that the Great Northern Basin and 15 feet of the Cromford Canal had been excavated. This work continued with the pouring of concrete to create new wall foundations on which a new wall was built. The Swing Bridge was opened probably for the first time since 1934. Stop planks were fitted above Langley Bridge Lock to allow the basin to fill with water.
In the October 1972 minutes, it was recorded that at the IWA Midland Branch AGM, Mr. M Golds had been awarded the 'Mudlarks trophy' for the Midlands area.
After two years of hard work, 1973 dawned with just the minor job of acquiring some lock gates to complete the task. The gates from Wollaton Lock on the Nottingham Canal were borrowed and after a strip-down and rebuild, became the new top gates for Langley Bridge Lock. The bottom gates and refurbished balance beams were fitted and the lock and basins were ready for the grand opening at the Three Canals Rally in May 1973.
In June 1977 ECP&DA built a concrete path from Langley Mill cottage to the water's edge with a concrete block retaining wall. In October of that year, power points were fitted in the Great Northern Basin.
In 1978 the sanitary station in Langley Mill Basin was started. In 1979 a broken lower lock gate heel on Langley Bridge Lock was repaired. Work also started on Sandiacre Lock Cottages, continuing through 1980. The access from the cottage to the tollhouse was opened up. Both upstairs rooms were stripped out and repaired/redecorated.
In April 1982 the tollhouse windows and back fence at Sandiacre Lock cottages were repaired.
In 1983 the Erewash Canal finally became relatively safe under the British Waterways Act 1983 when it was transferred from Remainder to Cruiseway status. The Langley Mill Basin and Lock were drained in 1983 to repair the lock walls and fit new gates.
In 1984 ECP&DA installed bollards at Padmore moorings Sandiacre. It was reported that new lock tail gates were soaking in the basin and that the swing bridge was in need of urgent repair.
In 1989 tarmac was laid on the roadway to the swing bridge.
The ECP&DA carried out more lock repairs in 1990. This consisted of the construction of steel balance beams for the bottom gates, fixing new balance beams and repairing overflow vole holes & fixing new steel / co-plastic paddles. New stop plank grooves and paddle gear were fitted in 1991 to Langley Bridge Lock.
In 1993 ECP&DA volunteers restored the Victorian Pump House at Langley Mill Basin. The original steam pump was refurbished by Severn Trent Water and reinstalled in the Pump House. A manhole was installed below the Langley Bridge lock with the necessary pipework to create a back pumping system to lift water from the Erewash Canal to the Langley Mill basin above the lock.
In 1994 a cleanup was carried out on the Erewash Canal, the kitchen was restored at Sandiacre Lock cottages, and a Shell award for £500 was received for work around Sandiacre Lock cottages. The Pump House was still having priming problems with the big pump, Langley Engineering was called in to take a look.
In September 1995 tarmac was laid on the road from the swing bridge towards the dry dock and the top gates were painted.
In 1996 raising the coping stones around the Great Northern Basin was completed. In March 1997 a canal cleanup took place. Later in the year, a gate was fitted to the basin entrance, and tarmac laid on the road that leads to the swing bridge. In February 1998 stop planks were put in to allow the fitting of new plastic ground paddles and repair the weiring brickwork. Another Erewash Canal clean-up took place. Several rooms in Sandiacre Lock cottages were painted.
In May 2000 there was a lock stoppage to paint gates and fit new handrails at the top. Another Canal clean-up took place. In June 2001 about 150 tons was dredged from the feeder, the swing bridge was repainted. There was also a combined work party with Derby & Sandiacre to cut down the willow tree in the Sandiacre arm.
Work started in 2003 on the Cromford Canal Extension and in 2005 another section of the canal was added above the Langley Mill boatyard. Repairs were made to the top gates to stop leaking and part of the swing bridge handrail was replaced.
The ECP&DA volunteers carried out extensive repairs to the toll house in 2006. The roof was repaired, ceilings and floors replaced. The guttering was repaired and a new window fitted. Spring 2007 work continued to clean out the feeders.
In 2011 the Swing Bridge at the entrance to Great Northern Basin underwent restoration work which entailed the removal of the planking, bearers, and ballast, then cleaning, repairing, and painting the frame. The bearings and pintle were also cleaned and fitted with a cover. The new bearers and planking were then installed and following slight adjustment to the ballast the bridge was re-opened.
Also in 2011, the ECP&DA was also involved with the Trent & Mersey Canal Society and WRG to restore the crane at Shardlow
A group of volunteers meet every Friday to carry out work along the Erewash canal and around the Langley Mill Basin. New volunteers are always welcome. See our Volunteers page