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Waterway traffic has always been important to the village of Shardlow and in the second half of the 17th century, Wilden Ferry, near Shardlow had become the head of the Trent navigation. This part of the Trent was leased from the Cokes of Melbourne Hall by the Forsbrooke family. They tried to monopolise river traffic between the ferry and Nottingham and were so successful that Shardlow Hall was built out of the profits. The original frontage of Shardlow Hall faced the road from Aston Lane to Great Wilne (now the footpath), the original building being 1684, with additions and a new frontage being added when the new turnpike (London Road) was put through in the 18th century. The new frontage was built to a design by Smith of Warwick and Joseph Pickford of Derby fame. It is an imposing building, consisting of a main brick built block, with wings either side, and became the seat of the Sutton family. It was later used as offices by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and is now Cranfield University's Cranfield Centre for EcoChemistry.