Canal Trust Appeals For More Hands, Hearts and Minds

The Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust has launched an appeal for more local people to help them in their work to bring the former Derby Canal back to its former glory.

The Trust was founded in 1993 with the ultimate aim of restoring a 12.5 mile stretch between Derby and Sandiacre to connect to the Trent and Mersey and Erewash Canals.  This would create a 25 mile cruising ring with access to more than 2,000 miles of navigable waterways across the UK.

Over the last ten years the Trust’s members have worked to keep the canal path clear and to restore canal bridges and other structures.

Now with the accelerating progress being achieved at various sites along the path the call has gone out for reinforcements.

The work to be done is varied – everything from physical work like bricklaying, building clearance, hedgelaying and landscaping to outdoor activities like surveying and managing wildlife, uprooting invasive plants to the more cerebral work of researching history, writing articles for Social Media and our website and manning the Trust’s stall at outside events in the summer.

The volunteers have already achieved a lot, but with the current building work on cottages restoration at Draycott, together with lock restoration at Borrowash and Sandiacre and canal path clear up at Spondon the opportunities are growing.

If volunteers can deal with the more straightforward tasks it frees up funding to bring in experts for the bigger challenges.

Site working parties are organised on Wednesdays, Fridays and alternative Sundays, so volunteers can pick a convenient time. Training is available where appropriate – all that’s required is a willing pair of hands and an open mind.

David Savidge, Trust director responsible for site work volunteers, said: “We have many types of volunteers, who all gain a tremendous lift from making a difference to their communities.

“Our overall project will make a massive and permanent difference to our community and our volunteers want to make a difference. Some have just retired and are bored at home, some want to learn new skills like hedgelaying, others want to get outdoor exercise and jogging doesn’t appeal.

“When a new volunteer comes along we find out what interests them and assign jobs to suit. Everyone works at his or her own pace and finishes when they’ve had enough, but all of them find a real sense of camaraderie and friendship that comes from working together. They’ve made new friends and have a sense of purpose and they keep coming back.”

Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust Restoration Chair Chris Madge added: “All of our Trustees and advisers give their time voluntarily and there are many more who support our work either on a regular basis or for a couple of hours as and when they can.

“We can draw on the skills of an architect, a planner, a farmer, builders and engineers. We also work with organisations who want an opportunity for their staff to put something back on special days and they sometimes even donate the materials required. However it comes, we are extremely grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and involvement.

 “We are making real progress on several key aspects of our overall vision to restore the former Derby Canal as a benefit for all, which is a self-sustaining economic engine for job creation, tourism and environmental nature conservation.

“This will require many more pairs of hands – and minds – and I hope that more people will be inspired to become part of this programme which will be a fantastic attribute for everyone who lives, works and plays in this area.

 “And we dare to dream that we can emulate the stunning success of cities such as Birmingham and use the waterways to improve the quality of life for all and as a catalyst for investment and development.

“At present, we have opportunities in the restoration of the derelict canal side cottages in Draycott into a museum visitor centre, cafe and residential homes, hedge planting in Spondon, encouraging sporting activity at the Draycott canal, manning a trip boat on the Derwent and joining the professionals restoring Borrowash lock.”

Anyone who wants to make a difference come along to Trust’s open day at the Draycott cottages (DE72 3PE) on Sunday May 20 between 9.30am and 1pm.

For more information on how to get involved in the work of Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust please visit

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