8 June 1991
Tapton Mill Bridge
About this image
Tapton Mill Bridge looking north. This bridge, officially No 1 on the Chesterfield Canal (the numbers go up to 85), takes the towpath from the east side of the canal to the west. Some way to the south the Canal merges with the River Rother which it originally utilised for a further half mile in order to reach Chesterfield proper. In order to protect the waterway from overtopping with excess water from the river there was once a floodgate in front of the bridge.
The Canal opened in 1777 and connected Chesterfield with the River Trent at West Stockwith via Worksop and Retford, a distance of 46 miles. The section from Chesterfield towards Worksop saw little or no use after the closure of the narrow and lengthy Norwood Tunnel on the Canal's summit level in 1908 (as a result of damage from mining subsidence). Thus, at the time this photo was taken the Canal was not navigable but it had remained reasonably intact from the river to Staveley in order to maintain a supply of water for the iron-making and chemical plants at Staveley Works. An indication visible here of this reduced role is the fact that the onetime floodgate has been replaced by a concrete wall with the sluice on the left controlling the flow of water.
The Chesterfield Canal Trust has long term plans to reopen the canal all the way from its terminus at Chesterfield to the present head of navigation at the eastern end of Norwood Tunnel at Kiveton Park. Between 1989 and 2012 reinstatement of the length from Tapton to Staveley was completed in stages with navigation restored to the stretch from Tapton Lock to Tapton Mill Bridge in 1994. This included the installation of a replacement floodgate. While a new terminus basin has been constructed in Chesterfield, at the time of writing (2014) this remains isolated as there is as yet no navigation along the river section southwards from Tapton Mill, a new entrance lock being needed to link the basin to the Rother.