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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Chesterfield.

We can't get to Chesterfield on the Chesterfield Canal, yet, so we decided to catch the train and go and have a look anyway. The station is very handy for the marina here in Shireoaks and we were soon on our way to Sheffield. We had a few minutes wait there before moving on to Chesterfield. IT had been raining when we left the boat but by the time we got to Sheffield it was nice and sunny. I expect it is because we were back in Yorkshire having left Nottinghamshire. (Or is it Derbyshire?).

As it was nice and sunny we went for a walk to the end of the Chesterfield Canal which isn't far from the station. You find the River Rother and then it disappears over a weir at where there was obviously a mill. The river is canalised from the weir as far as the floodgate which is the first lock.

 Tapton flood gate, Chesterfield.

We walked a little further and came across the Tapton Visitor Centre, the second lock and the friendly staff there. After a chat and a hot chocolate we set of back to the markets. The walk by the river is very nice with bluebells and wild garlic and the footpath is in quite good nick. Just before you get to the station you come to the new canal basin that has been dug out already. The original 1780 ones had disappeared under buildings it seem which have in their turn now been demolished so maybe the basins could be found below the new rubble. It looks like big plans for the area of the new basin that would make a fitting climax for the canal. It seems that it will have to wait now until the HS2 railway is sorted out.
Lock No.2 and Tapton Chesterfield Canal Visitor Centre.

The famous crooked spire of St Mary's and All Saints Church. The church is the largest in Derbyshire. I had always heard that the spire was twisted due to the use of green oak when building it. It is suggested in the guide that it has twisted due to the 32 tonnes weight of lead tiles that cover the 228ft spire.

Helen was hoping to find a good haberdashery stall on the market. (great word that, haberdashery) but she was disappointed. She did manage a jumper and a good poke about the stalls and shops in Chesterfield. After a bite of lunch we went to the church but there was a wedding taking place so we moved on to the small but informative museum. Once again I was struck with just how much every town in the UK has changed over the last 100 years and the mining and heavy industry of Chesterfield has just about gone.

The Chesterfield Town Hall is one that seems to befit a much bigger place.

We walked into Queens Park and sat with an ice cream and watched a little of the cricket. The little girl on her bike had been going round and round the tarmac round the oval. I bet she sleeps well tonight!

We caught the train back and in under an hour we were walking back aboard for welcome cup of tea. As a pudding with our tea we had a vanilla slice which is Helen's favourite. I walked round with the rubbish and had a look at a new boat building near the entrance to the marina. It seems to be the 'New Dawn' which is a hand made replica of the old distinctive boats that worked on the Chesterfield Canal. As they didn't really go on any other canal they did not get influenced by other trades or styles. They were referred to as 'cukoos'. They were only used for short trips and the boatmen didn't really sleep aboard although they did have a little cuddy fore and aft. They did venture out on the Trent and to Torksey to get to the Fosse Dyke Navigation though. They were not very graceful looking craft but the as the there is  no other example of this type of craft it is a great job to build this one to the original design.

Stern section of the 'New Dawn' Cukoo.

Bow and st'bd side of 'New Dawn'.

In the woodlands and area that was obviously what has replaced Shireoak colliery we had seen concrete columns like trig. points. Near the marina, that was the 1861 boat loading basin of the colliery, there is another of these concrete structures it seems that they mark the shafts that have been capped.
We had seen at least two others in the area so if they mark old shafts there must have been a minimum of three.

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