Memories of pulling the 'plug' on canal

WHEN Worksop British Water Board worker Bill Thorpe dredged the Chesterfield Canal back in 1978, he thought it was like any other day.

But when he returned the next day, he discovered that he had accidentally pulled out the canal’s ‘plug’ and that part of the canal had drained away.

That was the memory of Bill’s aunt, Pat Ward, 70, of St John’s Court, Worksop, this week – who said that Bill could not believe his eyes when he saw what had happened.

“He was getting rubbish out of the canal and his machine must have caught the chain of the plug. No one even knew the plug was there and everyone got a big surprise the next day,” said Pat.

Bill, formerly of Chesterton Drive, and his team pulled the plug that sat between Worksop Town Lock and Whit Sunday Pie Lock in Retford, and overnight, the area had completely drained.

“He was so surprised about what had happened because they did not even know the plug was there,” said Pat.

Bill, a father of two, who sadly died from a heart attack at 42, 12 years ago, was in his early 20s when he pulled the plug.

The black and white photograph had been forgotten for some time – until Pat read a letter in the Guardian last week referring to the incident.

“It brought it all back to me and I realised that there was still interest in it and thought there may be others who would like to look at the picture,” said Pat.

Chesterfield Canal Trust said that the plug would have been included in the designs for the canal when the plans were drawn up in the 1770s.

“Every canal has some sort of drainage system and that is how they are maintained,” said Peter Piper from the Trust.