Shardlow is a magnificent example of a small canal port in a prime state of preservation. Everywhere there are living examples of large scale canal architecture, as well as old established necessities like canal pubs and a boatyard. By the lock is the biggest and best of these buildings, the 18th century Trent Mill.- John Benson, Canal & River Trust Archivist
Originally a small river port, Shardlow’s trade credentials really started booming with the creation of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1770. All of a sudden, there were extensive routes in every direction where the goods arriving by river could go.
Wide boats brought enormous loads down the Humber Estuary to Shardlow, which were then divided between narrowboats to ship down the canal routes, or loaded onto carts to travel by road. These goods were some of the most varied imaginable, from coal and iron to cheese and salt.
As the importance of the port grew, more and more warehouses sprung up for storage – leading to ever more inventive methods of construction. The Clock Warehouse, for instance, was built between 1778 and 1780 across the canal – with a distinctive arch underneath meaning barges and narrowboats could pass through it and unload their wares directly into the warehouse.
In it’s heyday around 1816, the population of Shardlow had grown from a few hundred people to over a thousand, with a dozen warehouses, offices and stores. Despite the industry shifting towards the railways rather than canals some time later – when you visit Shardlow and its canals – the preserved buildings and heritage centre make sure there’s still a real sense of history in the air.
5 things to do nearby
Elvaston Castle - With beautiful gardens and scenery, Elvaston Castle is a beautiful place to visit.
Chip and Pin Micropub - If you're looking for a nice quiet place to try some of the local ales and ciders, then this is the ideal spot for you.
Attenborough Nature Centre - This beautiful nature centre is an excellent place to visit during the summer months.
Calke Abbey - This 20th-century building is a wonderful place to visit for anyone who wants to take in some of the local history.
Hopton Hall Gardens - These impressive gardens are a wonderful place for a relaxing walk.
Image credit: M-dash Archive / Alamy