Shropshire Star

Nice as pie as open-air play shares story of historic canal

More than 400 people flocked to a canal yard for a taste of history and theatre as an open-air play was performed.

Jackie Jeffrey, who played the Duke of Bridgewater, with her pie. Photo: Phil Blagg Photography

Fizzgigs, Ellesmere’s community’s arts group, performed Bridging The Gap, a 60-minute show with music at Ellesmere’s canal maintenance yard.

The script was especially written by local writer Shaun Higgins with songs by Mirjana Garland. It focused on how the canal now known as the Llangollen Canal came to be built, particularly its route through Ellesmere.

Mirjana Garland, chair of Fizzgigs and the musical director, said: "It has been wonderful to be able to bring together so many people from various parts of the community."

From left to right, Derek Cairns (Sir Jack Kynaston) Amanda Bevan (William Jessop) Catherine Eve (Rev John Robert Lloyd) Tom Walton (William Mostyn Owen). Photo: Phil Blagg Photography

Kate Westgate, Fizzgigs member and one of the organisers of the event, added: "At the height of the canal building frenzy, local landowners were desperate for the canal to go through their land. And all in pursuit of profit.

"Most people have heard of Thomas Telford, but fewer of a rather reserved engineer called William Jessop, yet he was responsible for the initial planning of the route. The contrast between these two characters lay at the heart of the show."

The story that unfolded was done in a light-hearted way with audience participation, lively songs and some of Fizzgigs’ trademark props.

One audience member said: "We were entranced. It was a delight to see so many talented people. Whenever I hear the name of Thomas Telford in future, I will smile with delight!"

Fizzgigs members Kate Westgate and John Yates. Picture: Phil Blagg Photography

There was much to see and do with historic narrowboat Saturn open to view. Over fifty people took tours of the yard. Suzie Gale from Coedpoeth said: "What an interesting place. Our guide was so interesting. This has been a great afternoon."

Kate added: "We are grateful for the support of the Media and Art Partnership which is working with Canal & River Trust to rejuvenate the historic maintenance yard."

Details of all Fizzgigs activities can be found at

Find out about events at the maintenance yard by searching "Ellesmere Yard" on Facebook and on Twitter & Instagram @EllesmereYard.