The Dearne and Dove Canal
The Elsecar and Worsbrough Branches
In this article on the Dearne and Dove Canal in the Barnsley Area, Peter Hadfield focuses on the Elsecar and Worsbrough branches.
This consisted of a six lock system which required the canal to be raised 48 feet to the terminus basin at Elsecar. The branch opened in 1798 and covered a distance of just over two miles from the mainline at Brampton. The revenue it brought helped to offset some of the capital costs of the Dearne and Dove Canal’s construction.
The branch eventually closed in 1928 and the canal lock system subsequently fell into disrepair. Thanks to the formation of the Dearne and Dove Canal Trust, sections of the canal have been brought back to a standard which reflects its former days during its operational life.
The area of Brampton where it branched off the mainline has largely disappeared although the canal bed can be seen in certain locations. From the bridge taking the B6089 road to Rotherham, the canal is in water at good levels up to the terminus at Elsecar Heritage Centre. It is hoped that due to the restoration of the section of the canal around Elsecar Heritage Centre, and its proximity to the shopping centre at Cortonwood along with the nearness of the Trans Pennine Trail, that it will result in a canal link between Cortonwood and Elsecar and provide a significant tourist attraction alongside the preserved railway.
The Worsbrough Branch left the mainline at Swaithe adjacent to lock 18 of the Stairfoot flight/Aldham eight locks system. It followed a course alongside Swaithe village and colliery where it went under Swaithe Bridge. It was further bridged by Swaithe viaduct, which carries Barnsley-Sheffield railway and then carries on towards Worsbrough bridged by Station Road at Lewden, and bridged at Edmunds Road and then under the former Wath-Penistone railway line, now part of the Trans Pennine Trail. It finally terminated at the Worsbrough basin at Worsbrough Bridge affectionally known as Cutting End. The branch covered a distance of 2 miles.
The Worsbrough basin is used for fishing but the rest of the branch has disappeared since its closure in 1906. The canal bridge parapets at Lewden and Edmunds Road are still visible.
The two reservoirs that fed the Dearne and Dove Canal situated at Elsecar and Worsbrough are maintained to a high standard being used as amenity and fishing.
I hope the three articles on the canal have provided enjoyment to readers, it has given me a great pleasure in researching its history walking the sections and bringing back many memories as a youngster playing at Aldham Eight Locks, Swaithe, Lewden and the Cutting End.
- The Forgotten Canals of Yorkshire, Roger Glister, Dearne & Dove Canal Trust