About this image
Looking north from the Erewash Canal towpath towards the bridge carrying Tamworth (formerly Sawley) Road. While the road's alignment is straight, the Canal has to make an S-bend to pass beneath it. Two decorated cast iron lamp columns remain in position here at road level, albeit without the lanterns that would have surmounted them originally. The area to the left of the bridge is shown on pre-World War One maps as having been a coal wharf, which probably accounts for the substantial gate piers and gates. The modern building in the distance is the now demolished Roper County Secondary School, built in 1964.
The Erewash Canal runs for 12 miles (19 km) from the River Trent via Long Eaton, Sandiacre and Ilkeston to Langley Mill and includes 14 locks. The Canal was engineered by John Varley and opened in 1779 at a cost of £21,000. Serving the industrialised Erewash Valley with its many coal mines, iron works and factories, it remained a useful transport artery well into the 20th century and it was only after World War Two that it began to fall into disuse. The section north of Gallows Inn at Ilkeston up to Langley Mill was declared unnavigable in 1962 and closure was proposed. The Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association was formed in 1968 and after much restoration work the Canal was reopened throughout. In the 1980s it was duly upgraded from a 'remainder' waterway to 'cruiseway' status.