The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 2 - May 1989

Bringing The Story Up To Date

The odd bit of commercial traffic that continued to use the canal between Nottingham and Beeston finally ceased in the 1960s leaving the waterway clear for leisure craft. Those who chugged along its six-mile length no doubt found it quite an interesting journey, even though much of the canal and its immediate environs had become decidedly shabby. Anyone on foot, who chose to walk alongside, even though legally you weren't supposed to do so, found the towpath muddy and overgrown with the canal bank crumbling away in places. At that time the canal must have been viewed simply as a relic from the past that didn't have much of a future. As most readers will be aware the situation is now much improved and in fact the Nottingham and Beeston Canal was recently included in a Department of the Environment case study of good practice in urban regeneration.

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The Beeston Cut down at Dunkirk. Photo by Paul Bexon.

The first to point out that the canal had definite environmental and recreational possibilities was the Nottingham Civic Society in a report produced in 1974. The City Council considered this document and agreed to support the idea of improving the general appearance of the canal and trying to sort out the problem of public access to the towpath. The Council's Planning Department subsequently carried out its own study of the canal and presented a set of proposals to the City Council in 1977. After negotiations with the British Waterways Board, the City Council took over responsibility for towpath maintenance in exchange for the Board allowing public access along its length. This agreement came into effect in 1980. Once British Waterways Board had carried out necessary works to the edge of the canal, a proper path was laid using money from the Inner Area programme and labour from the MSC Community Programme. There is still a section of pathway near Redfield Road awaiting completion and Broxtowe Borough Council has yet to embark on footpath improvements to its section of the canal. So if you're intending to walk the length of the canal you still need sensible footwear, at least for the time being.

You don't, of course, have to walk all six miles. The number of points along its length at which you can get on or off the towpath are gradually increasing. A proper access point has been made beside the Gregory Street bridge and a new set of steps has recently been constructed which lead down to the canal from Clifton Boulevard. There will soon be a new footbridge across the canal near Alderney Street, off Castle Boulevard, and closer to the city centre the bridge which led to the Boots workshops, now demolished, is shortly to be commandeered for public use. These are in addition to the new road bridge which allows vehicular traffic to gain entry to Castle Meadow, being developed by Pimbrook Ltd. Where until comparatively recently there were railway sidings and a boggy wilderness now there is a marina, housing development and retail park. This section of land adjoining the canal has clearly undergone a major metamorphosis. In the city centre itself large-scale developments beside the canal have also taken place. There are now law courts on Canal Street and the major refurbishment of Newcastle House on Castle Boulevard. In Lenton the factory latterly occupied by Steada Raywarp has gone and in its place we have the Barrett’s development. The buildings occupied by Appleby, the builders, are going to make way for new premises for the optician firm of Dolland & Aitchison. Now Texas Homecare has moved to Radford Boulevard, their old premises are up for grabs and the site is likely to be redeveloped. There is every likelihood we shall soon see the canal side buildings between Carrington and Wilford Streets undergoing major changes. Elsewhere on the city centre section of the canal small but quite important improvements have been effected using money from Nottingham's Operation Clean-up Campaign. Various buildings have had their exteriors cleaned and cast iron bridges have received a fresh coat of paint. All of which helps to make the canal scenically more inviting.

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