"Lock to Lock" .... & Beyond
Ilkeston - Stenson's to Cotmanhay
w/e 01 November 2009
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

We've now actually completed all the sections between "Locks on the Erewash Canal" on the eastern side of Ilkeston but the canal still has a good distance to run before it exits the Ilkeston boundary and continues northwards to the Langley Mill Basin, hence this bonus part following the canal through Cotmanhay.

Leaving Stenson's Lock

We pick up the route at Stenson's Lock where the canal passes through some pleasant but seemingly unremarkable scenery. Beyond the trees and hedgerows though lies a history of an industrial heritage, a little of which will soon become apparent.

About two hundred yards from the lock the towpath makes a slight detour around this embankment which marks the spot where the Great Northern Railway (GNR) used to cross the Erewash Valley on its east-west route between Nottingham and Derby.
Looking Back

Scrambling up the embankment provides a view back along the canal and also sight of the Nelson Street housing development from the second half of the twentieth century just beyond the trees plus a hazy glimpse of the town centre on the distant horizon.
Bennerley Fields School

From the same position, the panorama across the canal (visible bottom left) reveals from left to right, a view up Vernon Street to Cotmanhay Road, the Bennerley Fields School complex, housing at Cotmanhay with Cotmanhay Wood on the hilltop to the right.
On The Viaduct

Path To The ViaductAt the top of the embankment the path levels off and leads through a fence where presumably there used to be a gate (left) on to the Bennerley Viaduct. It must be nigh on fifty years since I was last on the viaduct and back then I was on board a steam train with some schoolmates heading for some Christmas shopping in Nottingham. If memory serves me correctly that would have been in November or December 1959 when such a trip for unaccompanied schoolboys not long out of short trousers was quite an adventure. After Dr Beeching's axe fell in the 1960s steam trains ceased to run over here and it closed to rail traffic in 1968.
The viaduct built between May 1876 and November 1877 to a design by the Chief Civil Engineer of the GNR, Richard Johnson, opened in January 1878 and stretched nearly 500 yards (about 460m) across the Erewash Valley. It is now a Grade 2 listed structure.
Bennerley Junction

Booth's Playing FieldBennerley Coal Screening Plant site.As well as crossing the river in the valley, the viaduct also crosses the Erewash Valley Line that still links Nottingham and Sheffield and as can be seen above the line is running parallel to the tree shrouded canal. To the south (left) Booth's Playing Field (mentioned in Part 6) can be seen whilst the northern view (right) overlooks the former Bennerley Junction that once served a colliery on the site.

Old maps can convey a lot of history and the 1887 edition of the Ordnance Survey shows both the junction and the colliery but by 1901 the colliery had become an iron works. This nomenclature continued to at least the 1947 edition but my first memories of the site date from the 1960s by which time it had become a Coal Screening Plant. Roy Gregory (Guest Page 2), a good friend of Ilkeston Cam who grew up in the town but now resides in the USA, once described this area to me as his "playground" and even sent me a couple of images which can now be seen on Ffion Taylor's site. One shows the Coal Screening Plant in relation to the viaduct whilst the other is an aerial view of the whole site. Both are valuable as reminders of the area's industrial past.
Bridge Inn

But it's time now to descend from the viaduct and continue along the towpath where the Bridge Inn at Cotmanhay, not to be confused with the similarly named pub on Awsworth Road near Barker's Lock, soon comes into view. Any such confusion may soon be another thing confined to history as the Awsworth Road pub is currently closed and boarded up and in this economic climate, it may never reopen.
Still Heading North

From The BridgeFrom the canal bridge (left) at the Cotmanhay Bridge Inn the view along the canal to the north is curtailed by a bend in its route but from here on the western side is overlooked by the Hopewell Farm housing estate, another development from the latter part of the twentieth century. As the canal straightens out again (above) and disappears into the distance, it continues along the boundary of the estate towards Shipley and eventually its northern extremity at the Langley Mill Basin. Crossing the boundary just to the north of Cotmanhay, the canal not only leaves the town behind but also leaves the Borough of Erewash to enter the Amber Valley District.

This is as far as we go with this series though but there are some more pictures of the Erewash Canal from Shipley Lock towards Langley Mill from a 2003 walk here.
 Lock to Lock Index

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