Sunday 22 May 2016

Nutbrook Canal - Stanton Ironworks

Nutbrook Canal - Stanton Ironworks
May 2016

Stanton Ironworks and the Nutbrook canal were inextricably linked from the outset, the canal feeding the ironworks with its raw materials of coal, ironstone, limestone and water. The works also stood on its junction with the Erewash Canal which offered further supplies of raw materials from the Pinxton area and of course a route for the heavy end product to reach its market.

Stanton Ironworks and canal 1865

In the end the Iron works came to own the canal when no one else wanted it, and even then it was needed just for the last mile or so for in site movements and more crucially, for the cooling water it needed in its processes. In the end the canal was no longer needed and was culverted under what became a slag crushing site with the slag being used for hardcore in road building. 

Stanton Ironworks site 2016

The scale of the Stanton Ironworks site is vast and continued in production till the 1980's following a series of nationalisations and privatisations, but caught by a severe downturn the 7,000 staff were laid off and the plant levelled to the ground. Today it is just a windswept concrete pad littered with lumps of iron slag awaiting its next incarnation, which is planned to be 1,900 homes - 30 % of Ilekston's housing needs for the next 20 years. You do have to wonder if this huge development wouldn't benefit from a nice water feature including a lock or two. Waterside homes always carry a premium.

And so today we are left  with some fading images of an long dead industrial past, and here and there some telltale clues of the canal which facilitated its growth and prosperity for over a century.

Lock 1 - Black Saddle Lock 1956 with boats loading in 1937 and 1944.

The last section of canal to close was the bit beneath Lock One (Black Saddle Lock) site of the  loading wharf which saw slag sent south to build runways during the war and shell casings for the military.

Lock Houses 1961

Black Saddle Lock and Lock 2 (Stanton Lock) were both filled in in 1956, a decade after trade had ceased.

Lock 2 - Stanton before it was in filled in 1956

Today just a reeded trough can be found crossing the middle of the bleak site before the canal breaks free at the northern boundary - site of the cooling water outlet and some very unpleasant looking sediment.

Canal channel above Lock 2 on the Stanton site plus the cooling outfall.

But fear not - the rest of the canal is nothing like this. The post industrial apocalypse comes to an abrupt end and something approaching beauty takes its place.

Looking north from the edge of the Stanton site


Ade said...

Interesting post Andy. You have a flair for bringing the past back to life.
Cheers for sharing.

Nick said...

If anybody was thinking about "developer-led restoration" here, they could do worse than talk to the Hereford and Gloucester Canal Trust who are doing some innovative things around this.