Monday 30 May 2016

Nutbrook Canal - Shipley Reservoir

Nutbrook Canal - Shipley Reservoir and Paul's Arm
May 2016

Whilst we have reached the end of the line for the Nutbrook Canal its far from the end of the story. 

Shipley Reservoir dam

The Nutbrook was built is a relatively dry valley with a very limited catchment area for its water. The canal therefore started with its main reservoir at Shipley in the grounds of Shipley Hall, home of the Miller Mundy Family since the mid 1700's and a core promoter and backer for the waterway.

Shipley Hall 

Shipley Reservoir 2016

The valley in front the hall offered the only realistic site for a reservoir, and so a dam was built flooding the coach road and necessitating the construction of a bridge on the dam for access. This long sinuous lake must have represented a lovely water feature when full, but possibly offered a less aesthetic appearance when drained during the dry summer months!

Shipley Reservoir and associated canal

Today's lake bears little resemblance to the old reservoir with the upper end dried out on account of the reduced water levels (down about 6 feet) and widened to the east and the west due to mining subsidence. For many years the hall stood on a pillar of undisturbed coal but eventually one owned decided not to live there, the coal was excavated and predictably the hall suffered subsidence and was eventually demolished before 1940.

Its site remains on the west bank of today's lake but all traces have been erased by opencast mining and its later use as a theme park. Do you remember those signs to the American Adventure? This theme park opened in 1987 operated somewhat unexpectedly by Derbyshire County Council and initially was one of the country's premier tourist attractions before declining popularity saw it shut its gates in 2007.

The site is till owned by Derbyshire County Council and called Shipley Lakeside but essentially with the removal of all the theme park structures it has been left to its own devises with just the ghostly framework of the road system indicating a previous life.

Paul's Arm 2016

Whist the shape of the lake has evolved, the dam remains more or less as built with one of the bridges to Paul's Arm to the south still recognisible from the old Victorian photos, as does the rail link from the Woodside Mine at the northern end of the lake. Its winding gear and engine shed clinging on is the face of all the odds.

Remains of Woodside colliery

Colliery rail link to the canal then and now

Its strange how the oldest relics last the longest. Paul's Arm was an integral part of the reservoir as it accepted additional water from Mapperley Reservoir to the south and housed the sluice control to let water out into the adjacent canal basin.

Paul's Arm as it was - with the right hand arches of the bridge today

Canal feeder channel from Paul's Arm

Looking at this vast sheet of water its hard to see why the canal struggled to offer even nine lock fulls a day. However, I visited after a period of heavy rain and even them the flow down the valley was very small. The reservoirs may be big but there just wasn't enough coming in  from the small watershed to satisfy demand.


Anonymous said...

Would you say that this image is of the left hand, three-arched bridge at Shipley Reservoir?
Came up on a Facebook page for Shipley, West Yorkshire, however no-one could identify it locally.

Andy Tidy said...

Yes, its style and construction mirrors the two arched version i photographed so I am 95% certain its the three arched bridge in the b and w picture on the Derbyshire Shipley Reservoir, named after Shipley Hall in whose grounds it stood.