Chesterfield Canal volunteers explore 240-year-old tunnel

John Lower, Chesterfield Canal Trust, and Richard Parry, Canal and River Trust.
John Lower, Chesterfield Canal Trust, and Richard Parry, Canal and River Trust.

Chesterfield volunteers have explored a 240-year-old canal tunnel which has been abandoned since it collapsed more than a century ago.

Members of Chesterfield Canal Trust were given the opportunity to help carry out a ten-yearly inspection of Norwood Tunnel near Kiveton in South Yorkshire.

Inside the tunnel. Pictures submitted.

Inside the tunnel. Pictures submitted.

At nearly two-miles long, it was the longest canal tunnel in Britain when it was officially opened in May, 1775. However, subsidence from nearby mining works led to sections of the tunnel sinking and, despite efforts to raise the roof, it finally collapsed completely after heavy rain in October, 1907. The collapse effectively cut the Chesterfield Canal into two sections.

The inspection was carried out by engineers from the Canal and River Trust, a charity which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.

Sean McGinley, waterway manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: “This was a really exciting opportunity and like opening up a giant brick time capsule. It was particularly special for volunteers from Chesterfield Canal Trust.

“It was fascinating to get in there for the first time in a decade and everyone who went in commented on just how good the two-century-old brickwork is looking.”

Robin Stonebridge, chair of Chesterfield Canal Trust, added: “This was like Christmas and birthdays all rolled into one for our members.

“For many years the tunnel has been considered as the one obstacle to further restoration of the Chesterfield Canal.

“The exploration was a great chance to see what state this part of the tunnel is in and we want to work with the trust on how we can get the canal up into Kiveton Waters.”

For more information about Chesterfield Canal Trust, visit www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk