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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Plans to reopen waterways
Canal boat (generic)
The canals provided an important route through the West Riding
Plans are being made to reopen two canals which used to link West and South Yorkshire.

The Barnsley Canal and the Dearne and Dove Canal used to provide a waterway from Wakefield through the Dearne Valley.

They then linked with the South Yorkshire Navigation near Rotherham.

A Barnsley Canal Consortium has been set up and wants to undertake a detailed feasibility study of the route.

Nature reserve

The consortium is a grouping of local councils along with the Environment Agency, British Waterways and the Barnsley, Dearne and Dove Canals Trust (BDDCT).

Derek Housley who chairs the BDDCT said: "The outlook for the forgotten missing waterway is getting better.

"It would not just be a waterway but also a long distance footpath, cycleway, fishery and nature reserve."

Mr Housley added that he hoped the reopening of the canals would provide the catalyst for regeneration projects along the route.

Corn and coal

The Barnsley Canal which linked that town to Wakefield was completed in 1799 and the Dearne and Dove down to Rotherham was opened in November 1804.

Most of the barges were carrying coal on the way south and returned with corn for West Riding mills.

The last loads were carried in 1952 and since then the canals, along with towpaths, wharves and locks have been left abandoned.

It is not known precisely how much it would cost to restore the canals or exactly where the money would come from.

But the BDDCT says there would be substantial economic benefits not least from new waterfront housing which could be built.

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