By David G. Barber
I’ve just returned from two and a half weeks in England “on holiday” as they say there. During much of that time, we made a two week cruise around the Four Counties Ring which will be recorded elsewhere. As one side trip on that cruise, we boated the Caldon Canal and its Leek Arm.
In many ways, the Caldon Canal reminded me of the Black River Canal in New York State. Both rise from the summit level of a major canal and bring water to that summit level (the Trent & Mersey in England and the Rome Summit of the Erie Canal in New York). Both have staircase (or combined) locks (Locks 1 & 2 on the Caldon and three, three lock stairs, a four lock stair and a five lock stair on the Black River. Both reach a summit level and then descend to a river outlet as you travel away from the main canal. Both have level navigable feeders that connect to the distant end of the summit level and supply water from the same river that the far end joins to. And both were closed to navigation and abandoned. Both run through rural countryside though they begin in urban areas.
However, the difference is that the Caldon was restored from the Trent & Mersey junction to Froghall through the efforts of local government and others and today carries a steady stream of holiday boaters. It is considered one of the most scenic canals in England. A couple of years ago, the lock and basin at Froghall were restored with much voluntary effort. While the canal from there on to Uttoxeter was replaced by a now dismantled railroad, all the mile posts on the canal show the distance to Uttoxeter and there is an active society working for restoration.
At two other points in our journey, Norbury Junction and Hatherton Junction, the side canal that made the site a “junction” was abandoned. But, each has an active society plotting the reopening in the foreseeable future. I would not want to get in their way.
Why can’t we be doing likewise?
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