A number of questions are regularly asked about the Uttoxeter Canal, and specifically the proposed restoration. Below are some of the ones we hear most frequently. If you have any other questions or would like more detail on anything you see here, please get in touch with us.
This list will be reviewed and updated regularly.
Didn't they build a railway on the canal in the 1850s?
The canal opened in 1811 and closed in 1849. The well-known phrase "they built a railway on it" tuns out to be largely inaccurate, with a significant majority of the canal between Froghall and Denstone still visible on the ground. Much of it, whilst extremely overgrown, is even in water. Some sections of canal which were buried by the railway, notably in Froghall, on either side of Oakamoor, and around Alton Station.
Beyond Denstone, the railway was mostly built on the line of the canal and the 2009 restoration feasibility study proposed that it was not viable to restore the canal along the original route here.
How can you get the canal back to Uttoxeter?
The 2009 restoration feasibility study recognised that it was not going to be possible to follow the original line after Denstone. Whilst the longest section of the original canal still navigable today is near to Woodseat Hall, obstructions before this in Denstone (the church and school) and Rocester (the main JCB factory) mean that it is incredibly unlikely that this section would form part of a restored canal. The approach to Uttoxeter is also blocked by the A50 and new housing in the Wharf area of town, mean that the 2009 study proposed a new terminus at the quarry, on the edge of town. This idea was proposed and supported by East Staffs Borough Council.
How can you get the canal back through Oakamoor? They built houses on the line of the canal.
The 2009 restoration feasibility study recognised that it was not going to be possible to follow the original line through Oakamoor, partly because of the possibility of new housing on Riverside Road. However there are a number of possible alternative routes, the most obvious of which would use the river between Moneystone and Oakamoor Weir.
Where are you going to find £90m to restore the canal?
It is extremely unlikely that a single funder would give us £90m, but the larger project can be broken down into lots of smaller more easily funded projects, each bringing benefits in the local area. So far the major external investment has been £650k to restore the first lock and basin in Froghall, and £105k to restore bridge 70 and a section of towpath near to Crumpwood.
Other smaller projects, such as the uncovering of Jackson's Wood Lock, Carringtons Lock, and Charlesworth Lock, vegetation removal at Crumpwood Weir and opening up the towpath between Crumpwood and Alton have been done by volunteers from the Trust, Inland Waterways Association and Waterway Recovery Group, using smaller amounts of money raised by the Trust.
Why doesn't Froghall Tunnel get repaired? It is too low for most boats to get through, so they will not even be able to get to the Uttoxeter Canal.
It isn't a matter of repairing it as much as modifying it. The tunnel was built with just enough clearance for the working boats of the day, and almost all working boats still fit through the tunnel. There has been a small amount of movement under the road but even if this had not happened it would still be too small for many modern boats. Increasing the headroom is relatively easy in the second half, where the tunnel was cut through stone but there is not enough room to increase the headroom in the first half without raising the road level. That makes it a complicated and expensive project. Were we to make progress with the Uttoxeter Canal restoration there would clearly be an imperative to do this but without this the opportunity will only realistically come as part of a highways improvement project. The Trust does have some funds put aside for a detailed laser survey of the tunnel, which would give us a detailed understanding of how much the roof needs to be raised, and we have been speaking with CRT to find an appropriate opportunity to do this.
Why didn't boats fall over the top of Crumpwood Weir?
When viewed today, the weir looks like a scary place to take a boat, but it should be remembered that even when unloaded a boat would had a draught of at least 2 feet. The water over the top of the weir is only about 6 inches deep in normal conditions and even in extreme flood events (when boats would not have used it) is unlikely to be much more than a foot. It is however a very dramatic sight.
A survey of the weir was done by divers a few years ago and we found that there we no score marks from boats being towed across the weir. We believe this because the way that the water flows from the bed of the river up and over the weir kept boats slightly away from the edge. We would of course like to test this theory with a suitably sized boat at some time.