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CVLLP 16: Froghall Connection

Project Objective

To undertake an archaeological investigation of the former Uttoxeter Canal line from Froghall Wharf to the A52, investigate whether a safe walking route can be created and to identify opportunities for restoration of the canal.

The research area was part of the route of the Uttoxeter Canal until 1849 then became part of a branch of the Churnet Valley Railway from its main line to Froghall Wharf.

The investigation will give fuller understanding of the line of the canal, and how it was converted for use as a railway in the 1850s. It will also consider how the line might be converted back for use as part of a safe pedestrian route from Froghall Wharf to Froghall Station, and later fully restored as part of the Uttoxeter Canal.

Fit to existing strategies and objectives

One of the constitutional aims of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust is to establish a safe walking route along the full length of the Uttoxeter Canal. This project will inform the Trust of the viability of the first part of this route, bypassing the dangerous route along the road between Froghall Basin, the main A52 road and Froghall Station.

An outline feasibility study was commissioned by Staffs County Council and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust to look at restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal. The report, published in November 2009 by Halcrow Engineering concluded that “…this is a technically feasible project.” Among the recommended next steps was “Investigations should be made into whether it will be possible to access the old line of the canal between Froghall and Oakamoor.”  This study will inform the Trust about the viability of reusing the original line of the canal in Froghall.

Comprehensive description of the project

Works programmed for the autumn and winter of 2012, when vegetation can most easily be cleared. Volunteers from Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust will undertake initial clearance the line which is currently disused and overgrown. An investigation will be undertaken to find out what remains of both canal and railway along the route. Consultants will be appointed to undertake this detailed investigation.

Who will benefit?

Local community and visitors in general will benefit from a better understanding of the link between Froghall Wharf, the Uttoxeter Canal and the Steam Railway.

Outputs and outcomes

Measured outputs

A report covering the investigation undertaken and recommendations for creation of a safe walking route and later restoration of this section of the canal.

Outcomes    

A better understanding of the archaeology of the area and the implications for any subsequent works along this route.

Tenure

The Froghall Access in question was once the first part of the Froghall to Uttoxeter canal. After the arrival of the railway it was lost completely under Bolton’s Copper Works. The Copper Works is now undergoing major changes and as party of the Churnet Valley Masterplan it is earmarked as a major opportunity site for development. It is vital that a full understanding of the archaeology and the possible benefits of retaining this route for access, and possible reinstatement as a canal, is in place before planning decisions are made that might recover this route for another 100 years.

What happens when the project is finished?

The Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust plan to create a report which will realise the importance of this piece of the old canal network and help any new site owners/developers understand that the canal in this area is an asset not be lost; we expect developers to want to maintain a ‘canal walk’ through the site.

Risks and constraints

Risk: Failure to recruit or retain suitable numbers and quality of volunteers.

Contingency planning: The Trust will work closely with the national Waterway Recovery Group to monitor volunteer numbers. The Waterway Recovery Group has experience over many years of scheduling this type of work. The number of work parties can be increased if the project falls behind schedule due to lack of volunteers or poor weather.

Project Delivery Risks

Risk: Poor weather may reduce our ability to deliver the project within described timescales.

Contingency planning: Work parties can be rescheduled if conditions are unsuitable.

Constraints, licences, permits etc

Written permission to undertake practical vegetation clearance and archaeological surveys will be obtained from the land owner before consultants are engaged and financial commitments entered into. The site is not in a Conservation Area or otherwise protected so no special permissions are required.

Invasive species

During access work along the canal route we will manage invasive species in conjunction with the Churnet Valley Big Pull (led by CVLLP 9) and the dedicated professional action of the canal vegetation project (CVLLP 5).

Biosecurity

The Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust will maintain high levels of biosecurity while undertaking projects. They will also work with others to raise the awareness of biosecurity issues within the valley.

Environmental Policy

Reduce travel: Volunteers on weekend work parties will stay in local accommodation arranged by the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust. Locally based volunteers will be encouraged to car share or to cycle to the site. There is public transport provision immediately adjacent to the site bus 234/5/6 links Leek & Cheadle.

Discipline: Volunteers will be expected to comply with the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust Environmental Policy.

The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve and enhance this unique landscape and heritage for all to enjoy.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Registered Office: The Wolseley Centre, Wolseley Bridge, Stafford, ST17 0WT. Registered as a company in England & Wales number 959609