The Uttoxeter Canal was opened in 1811 and ran for 13 miles from a junction with the Caldon Canal at Froghall down the Churnet Valley via Oakamoor, Alton, Denstone and Rocester to a terminus in Uttoxeter.
Usage of the new waterway was low, and it never returned a profit. In 1849 it was closed, with some of the line of the canal being reused by owners, the North Staffordshire Railway. The railway closed in 1965, with much of the route reverting to farmland or reinvented as public footpaths.
The demolition of two significant buildings at Uttoxeter Wharf in 2004, the same time as the "Destination Froghall" project was under way at the other end of the canal, prompted members of the then Caldon Canal Society to look seriously at the rest of Uttoxeter Canal.
It seemed that much of the canal appeared to be in a restorable state, indeed several sections were still in water. Conversely it was quickly realised that would not be feasible to reinstate the last part of the route beyond the A50 dual carriageway into Uttoxeter.
The Caldon Canal Society voted to change its name to the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and to adopt additional objectives with respect the Uttoxeter Canal:
- To preserve the line of the Uttoxeter Canal and maintain in good order the structures and lengths of canal that still exist
- To promote the creation of a walking route along the length of the Uttoxeter Canal utilising as much of the original towpath as possible
- To investigate the feasibility of restoring to navigation some or all of the Uttoxeter Canal.
During informal discussions with members of the Local Authority, the suggestion was made that an area to the north-east of Uttoxeter which is currently a gravel pit may make a suitable terminus for a restored canal.
In early 2009 the Trust, in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, commissioned consulting engineers Halcrow Ltd, to undertake a study to “determine whether the restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal between the Caldon Canal at Froghall to the north and Uttoxeter Gravel Pits to the south is a feasible project.”
In August 2009, Halcrow presented their report on the feasibility of restoring the canal.
“The conclusion of this report is that this is a technically feasible project. While there are a number of significant issues to address, with the appropriate work and consultation this should be possible.”
Since this time the Trust along with the Inland Waterways Association, Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership and others has been working on a range of projects, primarily between Alton and Denstone, an area in which much of the canal remains, some 170 years after closure on 15th January 1849