Shropshire Star

Montgomery Canal restoration is moving on at pace

The Montgomery Canal restoration is continuing after its official reopening at the beginning of June.

Wharf wall: many hands make light work

The canal originally closed in the 1930s after a serious breach near Frankton Locks in Shropshire.

After years of decline, the 'Big Dig' in Welshpool in 1969 saw the start of the canal restoration.

Since then, and thanks to the support of volunteers and funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, organisations have been working to reopen the entire 35 miles of the canal from the Llangollen Canal via Llanymynech and Welshpool, to Newtown, Powys.

Since the beginning of June, there has been substantial progress with two work parties, one of which coincided with the official opening of the canal.

In addition to the restoration work itself, much progress has been made agreeing plans and future requirements.

Wharf wall south end: before

One of the main objectives for this year’s pilot scheme is to inform the waterproofing requirements, with two sections of the channel being selected as the most informative.

Wharf wall south end: after

The sites will be prepared to ensure they meet the minimum required depth and have stable profiles for the banks, but crucially, will not include any new waterproofing or lining.

With dams at each end, the sites will be filled with water where the water retention performance will be monitored.

The trail will take place in early autumn and the results will contribute to the overall specification for the project. The specification combines ecology, heritage, engineering and operational requirements.

These heritage requirements apply to the wharf wall and wash wall repairs south of Crickheath Bridge and have already been agreed.

Dam construction trial

Work continues on the other aspects with particular attention being paid to maximising the ecological benefit and improvement, not least in the context of recent legislation.

Tom Fulda, project manager, said: “A trial of the lime mortar mix specified by the Canal and River Trust (CRT) proved successful with the results commended by CRT.

“This is used for repairs to the wash wall south of Crickheath Bridge, and with good progress in the July work party, this job is now over 50 per cent completed.

“Similarly, works to repair the tramway wharf have progressed rapidly with a combination of Society volunteers and those from the Dry Stone Walling Association contributing their expertise.

Wash wall repointing

“A further length of copings will be replaced on the repaired wall soon, and the grant award from the Association for Industrial Archaeology will help fund some of the new copings required to replace the broken and crumbling ones from the original wall”.

Tom continued, “The third and final ‘wall job’ was to complete the southern end of the wharf with an elegant corner returning the wall to the bank.

“This was finished on the last day of the July work party in the nick of time before the heavens opened.”

The July work party also saw the start of site preparation for the water tests which included tasks ranging from site strip, to checking the channel bed met the minimum required depth.

Compared with the overgrown state 12 months ago, the site is already starting to resemble a canal.

Report by Oscar Hamilton-Russell