Part of Cromford Canal’s Butterley Tunnel has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
English Heritage has protected a stretch of 700ft directly beneath the former Butterley Works.
The section includes a unique system where boats used to be loaded and unloaded by vertical hoists directly into the works above.
This system – which does not exist anywhere else in the world – dates back to the construction of the canal in 1790.
Pat Morriss, chair of the Friends of Cromford Canal, said she was delighted with the news.
She said: “This is fantastic and very welcome. The Butterley site has long and historically significant connections with the Cromford Canal.
“English Heritage’s decision vindicates our long-running campaign to protect this fascinating remnant of Britain’s industrial past, forming a transport lover’s cluster with the nearby Butterley site of the Midland Railway, Crich Tramway Village, Peak Rail at Matlock and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site of which the Cromford Canal plays a significant part.”