The Nutbrook Canal obtained its Act of Parliament in 1793 and was completed in 1796, designed by William Jessop with Benjamin Outram as engineer.
The Erewash Canal opened in 1779 placing the coal mines around West Hallam and Shipley at a disadvantage with respect to those served by the new canal, resulting from their less efficient means of
transport. However only a short spur from the Erewash Canal had been built to connect with a wagonway to Lord Stanhope's estates at Stanton. There was also a wooden wagonway from Shipley Gate on the Erewash Canal to Shipley Colliery
The canal when built was 4½ miles long, with thirteen locks fed by Shipley Reservoir, which in turn was fed by the Nut
Brook. The canal itself ran beside the Nut Brook for most of its length, diverging at its southern end towards its junction
(later known as Nutbrook Junction) with the Erewash Canal just above Heath Lock. There were two main branches from the main
line. A branch from just below Moor's Bridge went to Sir Henry Hunloke's estate at West Hallam. A second, smaller branch left
the main line just above Lock 3 to connect with Lord Stanhope's wagonway.