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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Derbyshire
A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Whatstandwell: Chase Bridge on the Cromford Canal, about 1900

Chase Bridge crosses over the Cromford Canal between Whatstandwell and Ambergate and today is within the Derwent Valley World Heritage site. It was numbered Bridge 14. This very picturesque postcard would have been published no later than 1902, though it is likely the picture was taken a year or two earlier.

J. B. Wallis, a Sheffield journalist, wrote the following accolade about the bridge and the Canal a few years later:

"The Derwent Valley from Ambergate towards Matlock is perhaps at its finest just now. The best way to take is the canal towing-path, which may be reached by a short lane leading to the right of the Matlock highway two or three hundred yards from Ambergate station. ... For a mile or more the canal passes along the fringe of Crich Chase, a very considerable fragment of the ancient Forest of Duffield, and the walk is through a maze of sylvan beauty. The oaks are just sprinkled with their first golden leaves, the birches are lightly veiled in the most delicate green, while the sycamore foliage clusters richly in bright green flakes and tawny tufts.
Passing under Chase Bridge - "a hoary eyebrow for the gleam beyond"- the canal sweeps round a splendid curve to Whatstandwell. On the right are steep grassy slopes, diversified by patches of woodland ; and on the left, in descending order, are the railway, road, and river, with the canal here running along side by side. The river is, of course, the oldest by many ages, then comes the canal (1793), the road (1820), and finally the railway (circa 1852).
... The valley is remarkably well wooded for miles, and all the beauties of wood and water are there represented. It is as fine a walk as any in Derbyshire, Dovedale not excepted

The newly built road was mentioned by Mr. Barker in his 1827 guide book "The Panorama of Matlock" (see second paragraph).

In early 1925 all the trees around the tow-path side of the bridge were cut down. "The view has not been improved thereby; the bridge looks bare and unfinished at that side". It was hoped that eventually the trodden and flattened undergrowth would recover[2]!

The Canal froze over in 1933 when overnight temperatures plummeted for three nights in succession. The bridge is close to the former Ambergate Wireworks site. Whilst the canal's ice was not thick enough for people to skate on it, the low-lying land between the bridge and the Wireworks also froze and skating was possible there instead[3].

Later images show strapping posts close to the bridge but they are not shown here or on two other images of the same vintage.

A good modern photo of the bridge, with map, can be found on the geograph website
It was taken by Graham Hogg.

Whatstandwell is mentioned in the following on-site transcript:

Kelly's 1891 Directory, Crich - Whatstandwell was part of the Crich entry.

Cromford Canal is mentioned in the Cromford Trade Directories section of the site. A description can be found in White's 1857 Directory.

"Whatstandwell", published by Hartmann, No.2527. Printed in England. Not postally used. Undivided back.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph",13 May 1913. Woods in the Derwent Valley, by J. B. Wallis.

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 4 March 1925. Town and Country Gossip.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 23 January 1933. Coldest since 1929. Eleven Degrees of Frost.

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