Talks to start on restoring Shropshire side of canal as appeal fund hits £25,000

Organisers of the Restore the Montgomery Canal are to have talks with Shropshire Council about the restoration of the waterway on the Shropshire side of the English Welsh border.

The restoration of Schoolhouse Bridge
The restoration of Schoolhouse Bridge

In Wales a programme of restoration is being planned thanks to recently announced government grants and it is hoped work can get underway later this year.

A major appeal has also been launched for the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge at Pant, near Oswestry, the last highway blockage in Shropshire.

It had been due to be rebuilt this year but was affected by the sharply rising cost of construction materials. The appeal is being led by TV canal stars Timothy West and Prunella Scales and is boosted by a supporter matching every £1 raised.

Michael Limbrey chairman of the Restore the Montgomery Canal group said in a few weeks the appeal has received many donations, large and small which, which the matched funds bring the total raised already to over £25,000.

A further addition has come from a £10,000 legacy from a late member of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal.

“Our team of volunteers has worked for five years for the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge, one of the main obstructions to restoration of the derelict section of the canal to the Welsh border at Llanymynech.

“We now have the formal consents for the project and are finding that there is real inflation in the cost of materials so contributions to the appeal fund will help us meet those extra costs.

“We are absolutely delighted with the extent that people all over the country, from Southampton to Edinburgh, have responded to our appeal.

“We are now working to put in place the final arrangements to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge and to fix a starting date. In just a few months we have to close the road, excavate the embankment blocking the canal, build the new bridge and reopen the road.

“While this is going on we shall continue discussions with consultants, engineers and Shropshire Council about the restoration of those final two miles from the bridge to Llanymynech. This will match what is going on across the border in Powys where a programme of restoration is being planned under recently announced government grants; we hope that work will get under way later in the year.

"This year too volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society are working to finish their lottery-supported extension of the navigable section north of Crickheath.

“Much will be happening in coming months to reopen more of the canal in further steps to bring the area all the benefits of restoration: recreation and well-being for residents and visitors, jobs and business opportunities, and protection of the canal’s valuable built and natural heritage.”

Donations can be made through the Local Giving page for the Restore the Montgomery Canal appeal localgiving.org/charity/restorethemontgomerycanal.

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