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"The Erewash Canal was completed in 1779 at a cost of £25,000. The general direction of this canal is nearly north for almost 11 miles in the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Following the course of the Vale of the River Erewash, its northern end is rather elevated. Its chief objective was the export of coals, limestone, iron, lead, millstones, freestone, grindstone and marble etc. Also for the import of corn, and malt. Towns along this line are Long Eaton, Sawley, Ilkeston, Eastwood and Heanor. It begins at the Trent Navigation at Trent Lock near Sawley, and ends at Langley Mill, where the Nottingham Canal also connects and terminates."East of Ilkeston there was a pottery established on the bank of the canal. In the south west of Long Eaton there was an established boat building yard and there used to be lime kilns at Long Eaton, Sawley, Ilkeston, Sandiacre and Langley Mill. From Trent Lock to the Derby Canal is three miles. The elevation from Trent Lock to Langley Mill was 108 feet and at one time there were 14 locks and 25 bridges over this canal. At Langley Mill and Ilkeston there are feeders to this canal from the Erewash River. Mr William Jessop was the engineer for this canal.
There is no doubt that the Erewash Canal passing through Long Eaton played a major part in the development of the town. When the canal was constructed the whole of the town was on the south side, and the actual old part of the town was between The Green and Claye's Wagon Works. Lime was very much used as a fertilizer for the land and it was burnt and sold to farmers. The price per quarter of eight bushels at Long Eaton was 3/4d and at Trent Lock the price rose to 3/5d.
Prior to 1798 many different weights were used for coal, the quantity or weight allowed to the ton varied at almost every coal wharf. This led to numerous frauds, disputes and confusion. The Coal Masters and Navigations agreed that every boat used on their canals should be numbered, described and gauged in the most minute and accurate manner, and a record of the quantity of coal on every boat which passed through the locks was made.
The earliest known record about Weigh Houses in Great Britain occurred in 1422 which tells that barges that carry coals at Newcastle shall be measured and marked. In 1694 the actual weight carried was recorded by placing iron or lead weights on board.
The Weigh House at Tent Lock had a platform on which stood two small cranes by which iron weights each weighing 5cwt and a quarter, were placed on the boat equal to a full load. Iron plates were then fixed on the water line thus indicated and the boat was registered to carry that weight. On the usual narrow barge the depression for one ton would be about one inch, on a wide barge the depression for one ton would be about half an inch. An average load for a narrow barge at that time would be about 18 tons. The Weigh House is no longer in use and was converted into a dry dock.