Bugsworth Canal Basin is the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal, which was constructed in 1794-9 to link this area with the canal network around Manchester. The purpose of the canal was to transport limestone and lime to industrial centres around the country, and alongside the canal a tramway was constructed from Dove Holes to Bugsworth to bring the stone down the the canal.
The canal prospered until the First World War and both it and the tramway closed in the 1920s, with rail and road taking the stone and lime traffic. Interest in the canal renewed in the 1960s and the main part of the canal re-opened in 1974. However, Bugsworth Canal Basin had to wait much longer for restoration and only re-opened in 2005.
The basin covers a large area and now usually has numerous narrow boats in it. Prior to 1900 it would have been a hum of activity, with several quays, cranes, limestone crushing facilities, lime kilns, a gauging station (where the boats' displacement was measured and the toll calculated), horse transfer bridges, a canal master's house and a pub. Some of this, like the gauging station, canal master's house and the pub (The Navigation) remain, and interpretation boards have been placed around the the basin to explain how the area looked and was used in the past. Other features, like the horse transfer bridges (built so that barges in the Middle and Upper Basins did not need to unhitch their horses), have been reconstructed.
There is a small exhibition in the Lower Basin, organised by the Inland Waterways Protection Society, who masterminded the restoration of the basin.