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Name:The Trent and Mersey Canal, South Derbyshire
HER No.:99002
Type of Record:Monument
Designation:None recorded


Canal completed in 1777 and used for both trade and passenger transport. Commercial traffic continued into the 1950s. It is now used by pleasure craft.

Grid Reference:SK 293 286

Monument Types

  • CANAL (Post Medieval - 1777 AD to 1777 AD)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • EDR3695 - Conservation propsals, Shardlow Wharf, by South Derbyshire District Council, in 1979

Full Description

In 1755 the idea was first proposed of a canal linking the Mersey with the Trent, so opening a waterway across the whole island. The scheme was taken up by Josiah Wedgwood in particular, as well as by several important iron manufacturers. The Trent and Mersey Canal Bill received royal assent in May 1766, with the canal to start at the River Trent ‘near Wilden Bridge, below an ancient ferry called Wilden Ferry’. In fact it started further east, at Derwentmouth, possibly to avoid the obstruction to navigation on the Trent caused by the central pier of Cavendish Bridge, south of Shardlow. The canal was surveyed and engineered by James Brindley and, after his death, by his brother-in-law Hugh Henshall. Work began in 1766 and the section of canal between Derwentmouth and Shugborough (Great Haywood) was opened in 1770, although the whole route was not completed until 1777. It was immediately successful, with trade in goods such as coal, limestone, freestone, gypsum, bar-iron, lead, pottery, ale, cheese, deal, pig-iron from Scandinavia, cotton from Manchester, flint, chert, malt and barley. Passenger boats also operated between the various settlements along the line of the canal. Trade began to decline in the 1840s, however, because of competition from the railways in general and in particular from the alternative route provided by the Cromford and High Peak Railway, which linked the Cromford Canal to the Peak Forest Canal. However, commercial traffic continued until at least the early 1950s in the Shardlow area, supplying animal feedstuff mills with grain. From the 1960s positive action was taken for the preservation of the canal and for its use by pleasure craft. (1)

'Aston Moor, at Dickensons Wharf, west of Shardlow, north west to Plaster Pits north of Aston-on-Trent. Opened, 1813. Owner, Mr Samuel Storey. Traffic, gypsum (alabaster). Closed, line offered for sale in 1825 but believed revived and continued working to a much later date (within living memory (1966))'. (2)

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SDR18891 - Bibliographic reference: Lindsay, J. 1979. The Trent and Mersey Canal.
[2]SDR3182 - Bibliographic reference: Baxter, B. 1966. Stone Blocks and Iron Rails.