Con­fu­sion over Nor­wood

Canal Boat - - Letters -

I RE­ALLY EN­JOYED the ar­ti­cle on Nor­wood Tun­nel ( CB, Nov 16). It is very in­ter­est­ing to see how things have changed in 20 years.

I re­mem­ber two fam­ily friends ( Fran Green and Ralph Durham) vis­it­ing my fa­ther on their way home from a walk up the Ch­ester­field Canal to view the restora­tion works. They ar­rived at Nor­wood Tun­nel’s Eastern Por­tal at Kive­ton when the por­tal was open for in­spec­tion.

While chat­ting with the work­man, the en­gi­neer ap­peared from in­spect­ing the tun­nel. Ralph and Fran asked how far they had got­ten and the re­ply was “all the way”. They had made it all the way to the Western Por­tal. The en­gi­neer said they had lain down in the boat to squeeze un­der the roof. When asked what dam­age the M1 had caused, the re­ply was “noth­ing vis­i­ble” Pre­vi­ous thoughts were that the M1 had cut through Nor­wood, leav­ing it in two sec­tions.

As Nor­wood is ly­ing at a shal­low depth, my fa­ther had hoped if things went right re­gard­ing land owner per­mis­sion and fund­ing, that restora­tion of the tun­nel would be pos­si­ble from above, the same way it was built. Over the last 20 years the worst parts of the tun­nel have de­te­ri­o­rated more, but could still be re­stored; sub­ject to fund­ing and the rel­e­vant per­mis­sions.

MICHAEL WHITE, via email Rod Au­ton from the Ch­ester­field Canal Trust says:

“I’m afraid this is not cor­rect.

“The tun­nel is ac­ces­si­ble by boat for about 450 me­tres be­fore reach­ing a block­age of rub­ble and silt.

“Ap­par­ently, in the past, a Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways guy scram­bled over this for a few me­tres be­fore reach­ing the col­lapse of 18 Oc­to­ber 1907. This is less than 500 me­tres in. The tun­nel was 2,880 yards (2,633 me­tres) long.

“A re­port from 2008 states that ‘The Struc­tural Per­spec­tives re­port in­di­cates in ad­di­tion to the many col­lapses, the tun­nel is in­filled at sev­eral lo­ca­tions along its length. The western por­tal is re­port­edly back­filled just be­yond the bricked up en­trance and also the length un­der the M1 was back­filled with fly ash and grouted as were many of the shafts’.

“Even if it were to be pos­si­ble to re­store the tun­nel, we would not want so to do. One of the prime pur­poses of the restora­tion project is to bring eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially jobs, along its line. The pro­posed ma­rina at Kive­ton Wa­ters will bring ex­actly such ben­e­fits to the area. If boats went in a tun­nel, few peo­ple would even re­alise that the canal was there.”

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