New roof unveiled on 19th century Derbyshire lock-keeper's cottage as volunteer-led restoration project continues

Volunteers have fitted a new roof to a derelict 19th century lock-keeper’s cottage in Derbyshire that was originally built by the family of Florence Nightingale, as part of an ongoing restoration project.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 8:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 8:54 am

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Aqueduct Cottage, located situated on the banks of the Cromford Canal and part of a UNESCO designated heritage site, is a step closer to completion after a new timber roof has been built.

The building has been derelict for over 50 years until a community group recently set about restoring it and are now supported by local businesses and organisations.

Aqueduct Cottage which was first built by Florence Nightingale’s family in 1802 has withstood two world wars and two pandemics, is being restored by volunteers after work first began with the county’s wildlife trust last year.

The cottage was built in 1802 and has withstood two world wars and two pandemics.

Aqueduct Cottage was last inhabited in 1970 when new sanitation rules made it unfit as a dwelling, the simple two story building has no water or electricity supply and is made of local gritstone and limestone mortar.

Despite delays caused by the Covid lockdowns, the restoration team has made ‘good progress’ and they are optimistic the cottage will be open to the public later this year which will act as an ‘important gateway’ to Lea Wood Nature Reserve and the wider Derwent landscape.

Rebuilding the roof has proved to be one of the project’s biggest challenges as the large roof timbers had to be transported to the cottage along the canal from Cromford Wharf to Lea Wood Pump House.

PT Joinery Services started work on the timber roof frame in November 2020 by fitting the first rafters and have now installed the first floor and created rooms in the cottage.

The large roof timbers had to be transported to the cottage along the canal from Cromford Wharf to Lea Wood Pump House.

Project architect, James Boon commented: “Plans for the cottage needed to meet the brief from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and include an open-plan activity room on the first floor.

"In order to create a light, workable space the design included two windows overlooking the canal at the front, and 4 roof lights to the rear providing lots of natural light.

"The oak floor and large exposed beams will create a stunning character-filled room.”

Work restarted on the construction of the roof frame in January this year and the following month, a team of volunteers transported the tonnes of roof tiles along the canal towpath to the cottage, before restoration specialist Andrew Churchman Ltd then took over the next stage of construction.

Rebuilding the cottage's roof has been one of the project's biggest challenges.

The chimneys were rebuilt, using lime mortar and reclaimed bricks to match the originals and the heritage Velux windows were installed.

In keeping with the original cottage, the rear section of the roof will have slate tiles.

Ron Common, who is a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteer helping to co-ordinate the restoration project, added: “Aqueduct Cottage is totally unique and a key piece of Derbyshire’s canal heritage.

"To see it restored will not only enhance the aesthetics of the local landscape, but it will also give visitors an opportunity to learn about the region’s colourful history and create an enticing gateway to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s beautiful Lea Wood Nature Reserve.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Aqueduct Cottage, situated on the banks of the Cromford Canal has a new roof.

“We look forward to the completion of the restoration project later this year, and thank all of our volunteers, suppliers and members of the public for their on-going support and commitment to creating a new future for Aqueduct Cottage.”

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The new roof.
The much-loved cottage moves an important step closer to completion thanks to volunteers.
The project to restore the 19th century lock-keeper’s cottage remains ongoing.