30 May 2005 James F. Carter Licensing: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
This idyllic rural waterway was once derelict, and nearly became a dumping ground for industrial waste. It was saved by the work of energetic local volunteers and campaigners and is now one of the country’s best canals for nature, and home to three Sites of Special Scientific Interest
The restoration work by the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society has helped to restore the section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm for navigation.
© Copyright Leslie and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The upper reaches are not currently accessible by boat, but the towpath is open to walkers, and is a great place for spotting the wildlife and plants that thrive along the canal.
The canal architecture also adds interest to the scenery, with distinctive swing bridges, classic hump-backed bridges and restored and unrestored locks.
The Pocklington Canal is a broad canal which runs for 9.5 miles (15.3 km) through nine locks from the Canal Head near Pocklington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, to the River Derwent which it joins near East Cottingwith. Most of it lies within a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.
In July 1958, the Bowes Committee published their Inquiry into Inland Waterways, which recommended that waterways should be classed as A, B or C, where class A and B would be retained for navigation, but class C would not. The Pocklington Canal was in class C, and the newly-formed Inland Waterways Protection Society carried out a survey of it in 1959, so that they had evidence of its condition. A government White Paper followed the Bowes Report in February 1959, which recommended that an Inland Waterways Redevelopment Advisory Committee should assist schemes to regenerate canals which were no longer commercially viable. The evidence collected by the Protection Society was presented to the Redevelopment Advisory Committee in June 1959, when the Committee were examining a proposal to close the canal and fill it with sludge from a water treatment plant.
© Copyright Andy Beecroft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
In the 1960s consideration was given to the possibility of restoring the canal, and in 1969 the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society was formed. Restoration began in 1971 with the repair of the entrance lock near East Cottingwith. In 1980, the Shell Oil Company funded a new set of gates for Thornton Lock, under an awards scheme. Further assistance was provided in 1986 when Pocklington Canal Amenity Society provided two swing bridges and East Yorkshire Borough Council funded the work to fit them. The canal as far as the Melbourne Arm was formally opened on 19 July 1987 by Brian Dice, Chief Executive of the British Waterways Board. Restoration is still ongoing and about half the canal has currently been restored. The section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm is navigable, and four of the remaining seven locks have been renovated. Three sections of the canal, covering most of its route, have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and consequently, all restoration and activity has to be by agreement between British Waterways and Natural England. Negotiations to restore Walbut lock took months to complete, but permission was finally granted in 1992. In 1995, the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society launched an appeal to fund new gates for Coates lock, and these were fitted in 2000. The section nearest to Pocklington benefited from a new set of bottom gates on the Top lock in 2002, and dredging of the pound above the lock by British Waterways. Further negotiation with English Nature resulted in permission to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for completion of the restoration work.
The canal society own a trip boat called New Horizons, which is based at Melbourne, and used to enable the public to experience a cruise on the canal during the summer months. The canal is also noted for its wide variety of fish stocks, including tench, bream, perch and roach.
© Copyright Martin Norman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.