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The Fitzwilliam Canal

The Fitzwilliam Canal is a stretch of canal about a quarter of a mile long which runs from Parkgate to the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal. A mineral railway ran down from the pits at Stubbin and Newbiggin to massive coke ovens built alongside the canal. Coke and coal were loaded into barges here for transportation all over the country. The railway continued down the side of the canal to join the Midland Railway and later into the Parkgate Iron Works.

The Fitzwilliam Canal looking towards Rawmarsh
The Fitzwilliam Canal looking towards Rawmarsh

According to the 1851 Ordnance Survey the Parkgate Iron Works were also conveniently situated at the end of the canal, although by 1883 the Iron Works had extended greatly eastwards.

The railway and the ovens are gone, as are the Iron Works but the canal is a pleasant spot, a little haven of quiet between the railways, the open cast site (now done and being developed) and the present areas of light industry. It is very popular with fishermen. There are many species of plant and many types of bird to be found there. The place has been spruced up in 2011 using grant money.

Car parking right down at the bottom of the Gateway but difficult to access through a narrow gap between large boulders set up to deter lorries from dumping rubbish.

Greasbrough Canal

I have also unearthed mention of the Greasbrough (or Parkgate) Canal. This was completed about 1780 to carry coal from collieries near Greasbrough down to the River Don. It was only a mile and a half long and had four locks and a reservoir. There was a short branch up to Sough Bridge and later another up to Newbiggin. From the 1830s onwards coal was increasingly transported by rail. The upper part of the canal was disused by this lower portion that now forms the Fitzwilliam Canal above.

Although I have searched diligently I have been unable to absolutely ascertain the line of this canal although it may have followed the present line of Greasbrough Dike. I now found out that the upper part of the canal was filled in the late 1830s and that a coach road was built over the top of it to transport the Fitzwilliam family from their private railway station at Parkgate to Wentworth Woodhouse. There's no wonder I couldn't find it then!

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