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Significant restoration for canal

New life for Ashby Canal in Leicestershire

The United Kingdom is home to around 4000 miles of navigable canals and rivers.

Alongside these working waterways are a number of lost routes, some of which are now being re-opened to traffic.

A 30 yard extension of Ashby Canal at Snarestone is the newest part of Britain's waterways, linking up to the national system.

Another mile and a half of the Leicestershire canal has been restored at a cost of £3 million.

From boom to bust

The popularity of canals reached their peak in the 1790s when they seemed the ideal solution to the poor road system.

Ashby Canal
"This is a very exciting stage in the project."

However their heyday was short and they were quickly overtaken with the invention of the railways and improved roads, which were both faster and cheaper.

Much of the northern section of the Ashby Canal was progressively closed during the 1940s and 50s, after deep mining subsidence caused part of it to collapse.

Leicestershire County Council is leading the project to restore the Ashby Canal, after successfully applying for a Transport and Works Act order in October 2005.

This gives Government Authority to restore the canal from Snarestone to Measham.

Significant development

Geoff Pursglove from Ashby Canal Trust, one of the driving forces behind the restoration, says the small extension at Snarestone is significant.

Geoff Pursglove, Ashby Canal Trust
It's not just a question of digging a hole with a digger; we wish it were that easy
Geoff Pursglove, Ashby Canal Trust

"It's been three steps forwards and two steps back but I think things are making progress now.

"I'm actually very pleased we've got to this stage of the project, actually connecting to a navigable waterway system.

"This is a very exciting stage in the project."

The restoration of Ashby Canal, starting at Donisthorpe, has so far cost around £3 million, funded by a number of grants.

"The typical price of a canal is a thousand to 1500 pounds per metre. It sounds a lot but that gives you a complete canal with towpaths and piling.

"What takes the time of course is all the politics and the planning and the fundraising.

"It's not just a question of digging a hole with a digger; we wish it were that easy actually."


The restoration of Leicestershire's Ashby Canal


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