Langley Mill - Canal Basin
w/e 06 July 2008
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

A settlement at Langelei with a church and a mill was recorded in the Domesday Book and, situated at a crossing of the River Erewash linking Heanor and Derby to the west with Eastwood and Nottingham to the east, it became known as Langley Bridge.

Great Northern

The Midland Railway Company opened a line on the western side of the river in 1847 and this still exists today but the Great Northern branch line on the eastern side of the river that opened in 1875 closed in the 1960s and all remnants of it were lost in 1982 with the construction of the A610 road extension. All remnants that is, save for the name of the public house that was renamed "Great Northern" sometime after 1875. It was originally called "Junction Navigation".

Several large industries arrived with the Midland Railway line and after 1847 many cottages were built to house the workers and the name of the settlement was changed to Langley Mill. Prior to the railways, it was the canals that had led to the industrial development of the village and the Great Northern pub today boasts a canal side garden sitting alongside as it does the start of the Nottingham Canal. This canal is no longer navigable; in fact much of it has been lost altogether due to opencast coal mining but this small section that provides moorings for several narrow boats at the side of the pub is now known as the Great Northern Canal Basin.
Three Canals

The Nottingham Canal was the last of the canals that meet at Langley Mill to open. Opening in 1796, it joined the Erewash (1779) and Cromford (1794) Canals making Langley Mill a unique place in Britain being the only place where three canals meet. The image above shows the junction with the Erewash to the left, the Cromford in front and the Nottingham to the right.Memorial Stone MileagesThe memorial stone shows that the Great Northern Basin was constructed by William Jessop in 1796 and restored by the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association (ECP & DA) between 1971 and 73. It also indicates mileages to several places including Cromford (14½) to the north and London (171), Liverpool (182) and Nottingham (22) via the Erewash Canal. These distances are much longer of course than the direct routes as the canals follow the contour lines.
Swing Bridge

The entrance to the former Nottingham Canal is crossed by a swing bridge and the sign provides operating instructions for the uninitiated.
Langley Mill Lock

I've often put images of the Erewash Canal on this site but this is the first time I've shown its northern extremity. Whilst this lock is at the end of the Erewash, apparently it is actually the first lock of the Cromford Canal. A plaque on the wall under the road bridge (left) says that the Cromford Canal was engineered by Road BridgeErewash CanalWilliam Jessop and Benjamin Outram whilst the white sign in the middle of the bridge welcomes boaters to the Cromford Canal and the Great Northern Basin. Whilst many of the large industrial concerns such as Aristoc and Vic Hallam are no longer to be found in Langley Mill they have been replaced by smaller industrial units with many visible alongside the Erewash Canal to the south (right).
Toll Office

This is another view of the north end of the lock but the small brick building in the centre is the Toll Office. Langley Mill is often cited as a prime example of the rise and fall of an industrial village during the last 200 years. Coal was one of the main reasons for its growth as an industrial centre but the demise of the coal industry inevitably led to a decline and the last commercial boat to sail from here was in 1952. With the current rising fuel prices and road congestion, the smaller businesses that remain may well again be looking to the canals as an alternative mode of transport. Even if a toll had to be paid it could well turn out to be more economical.
The Pump House

Another similar but smaller brick building almost opposite the Toll Office on the other side of the canal was restored by the ECP & DA and opened in 1993 on the 25th Anniversary of the Association. This is the Pump House and it provides back pumping for both the Great Northern Basin and the Cromford Canal.
Cromford Canal

From the junction of the three canals, the Cromford Canal runs northwards for only about 600 yards providing a dry dock and more narrow boat moorings. In total there are still about five miles of the Cromford that are in water and there has long been a campaign, which is ongoing, to restore the rest of it .

In preparing this page I have made extensive use of several web sites and I would recommend visits to them if you would like to know more about this area and its history:


Heanor and District Local History Society - Langley Mill - Canals - Railways

The Friends of Cromford Canal

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