Hickling - Grantham Canal - Bridge and Basin - Then and now

Hickling Basin

Grantham Canal has at Hickling still its spacious basin. It must have been such a busy place in the working days of the canal with narrowboats and barges being loaded and unloaded. The warehouse, being used for the transhipment of dry goods, and the size of the basin indicate this. Although trade had begun to wane by the time photography was born, there was still trade on the canal. For sure there are pictures of working boats on the canal, yet to turn up. The Old Wharf & Warehouse is transformed – funded by a derelict land grant of £400,000 received in 1993 – into a cosy place where you enjoy a nice view while having a cup of coffee or tea.

Hickling Bridge (BR30)

Hickling Bridge (BR30) was built in the traditional brick arched humpback style. Nowadays there are two culverts, concrete pipes. The first old picture is taken before 1908, because beyond Hickling Bridge, the sails of the windmill showing.

Before 1908
Before 1908

Hickling - Hickling Bridge - Then and now

The second old picture is taken closer towards the bridge.


Some other old pictures

Hickling Bridge
Hickling Bridge – Date unknown – Archive Local History Group Hickling
Hickling Bridge - North End - 1935
Hickling Bridge – North End – 1935 – Archive Grantham Canal Society
Hickling Bridge - South End - 1935
Hickling Bridge – South End – 1935 – Archive Grantham Canal Society

Lenghtsman’s Hut

Hickling Lenghtsman's Hut - 26 December 2020
Hickling Lenghtsman’s Hut – Restored brick fireplace – December 2020 – Picture Estelle Slegers Helsen

About half a mile upstream from Hickling Basis, about a 5-minute walk, next to the towpath stands the Hickling Lenghtsman’s Hut, one of only two surviving huts on the Grantham Canal, and the only timber example. The webpage of the Local History Group Hickling on the hut states: “With a brick fireplace and chimney, the rest of the hut was constructed from railway sleepers standing on end (a reminder of the early links with the railway companies) with an earth floor, overlaid with red bricks and a wooden roof. Such huts would generally have been made with whatever materials came easily to hand.”

Plans for restoration were made before the turn of the millennium. “Unfortunately, a number of false starts followed and it has taken a further 20 years for the restoration to reach completion. In the meantime, some of those original timbers and features have been lost but after a huge amount of work and determination the hut now looks like its original self once again.”

An August 2017 post on the Grantham Canal Society’s Facebook page reads: “Initially, the hut appeared to simply need its roof putting back on, which had found its way into the adjacent hedge. A thorough assessment of the structure revealed more work needed to be carried out. With a brick chimney, the hut is built using railway sleepers dating from the era when the canal was in railway ownership, anywhere between 1854 and 1930s. Canal and River Trust Heritage trainees have been painstakingly piecing the timber sleepers back together in their Newark workshop, transforming this pile of splinters into recognizable and usable lengths, taking care to use as much of the original material as possible.”

It took another three years to get the job done.

Hickling Lenghtsman's Hut - 31 May 2020
Hickling Lenghtsman’s Hut – Ongoing restoration – May 2020 – Picture Estelle Slegers Helsen

When visiting Hickling on Boxing Day 2020 I was excited by the result.

Hickling Lenghtsman's Hut - 26 December 2020
Hickling Lenghtsman's Hut - 26 December 2020
Hickling Lenghtsman’s Hut – Restored – December 2020 – Both pictures Estelle Slegers Helsen

Back to the Hickling website: “The Lengthsman had responsibility for maintaining his ‘length’ of the canal and there would have been several along the towpaths between Nottingham and Grantham. Probably built in the late 1800s, it wouldn’t have been lived in but it had a small fireplace and chimney and would have been used for shelter and storage.”


The Grantham Canal runs for 33 miles (53 km) from Grantham through 18 locks to West Bridgford/Nottingham, where it joins the River Trent. It was built primarily for the transportation of coal to Grantham. It opened in 1797 and its profitability steadily increased until 1841. It was then sold to a railway company, declined, and was finally closed in 1936. It was used as a water supply for agriculture, and so most of it remained in water after closure, although bridges were lowered. Since the 1970s, the Grantham Canal Society have been working to restore it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *