Considerable restoration been carried out over the years. The canal map shows the navigable length of the canal and the location of locks that require restoration. By 1987, approximately five miles of canal and six of the eight swingbridges had been reinstated and another replaced with a fixed bridge.
Seven of the nine and half miles of canal between the River Derwent and the Bielby Arm are now open to navigation. Four of the nine locks are in use, two more have been restored and three remain derelict.
Thanks to its rural location, the canal has remained largely as it was built, with no new bridges or buildings nearby. The unrestored part of the canal is in water throughout its length and there are no physical obstructions to hinder complete restoration.
The current PCAS restoration project is at Sandhill Lock, which is in a derelict condition. PCAS has raised some of the funding needed for this major project and is now involved in negotiations with the Canal & River Trust before work can start.
The canal lies within three Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which means that all restoration must have the consent of Natural England. The four road bridges and the nine locks are all Grade II Listed structures, so lock restoration must also be approved.
The PCAS Canal Guide contains more information about the canal and the Canal Society.
The Bicentenary Restoration Project was carried out between 2015 and 2018 and succeeded in restoring navigation on the canal between Melbourne and Bielby, extending the navigable length of canal by two miles and bringing two more locks into use. It was timed to coincide with the opening of the canal 200 years earlier in 1818.
This restoration project was a joint effort, involving PCAS and the Canal & River Trust (CRT). PCAS raised its target of £250,000 with its Bicentenary Appeal and these funds were used mainly for completion of restoration work at Thornton Lock and Walbut Locks, with new gates at Walbut. Both of these locks had seen major restoration work in the 1990s.
CRT was awarded approximately £600,000 by the Heritage Lottery fund to support a project entitled ‘A Gem in the Landscape’. As well as supporting installation of new signage and numerous events for the public, the funding allowed dredging of two miles of canal. This was done primarily for habitat improvement but also allowed boats to use the canal, which had accumulated silt over many years of disuse. CRT also provided and fitted new gates for Thornton Lock. The two miles of canal were officially reopened on 25 July 2018. We are very grateful to Lizzie Dealey of CRT who managed the delivery of the Lottery-funded project and also helped PCAS achieve its aims and achieve considerable publicity for or work.
The next major project planned by PCAS is the restoration of Sandhill Lock, which is in a derelict condition. PCAS has raised considerable funding through an appeal but there is a great deal to be done to gain approval before work can start.
In the meantime, the PCAS working parties [volunteering] continue throughout the year, carrying out a wide variety of maintenance tasks.