Shropshire Star

More than £250,000 funding unlocks next phase of canal works to restore section which was levelled 60 years ago

More than £250,000 has been secured for the restoration of part of a canal which was levelled nearly 60 years ago.

Crickheath Basin opened in June last year

Work will be done to restore part of the Montgomery Canal after national charity Canal & River Trust, working in partnership with the Shropshire Union Canal Society, received £177,625 in funding from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The grant, secured through Shropshire Council, has been further boosted by additional funding of £76,250 from the Shropshire Union Canal Society and the Restore the Montgomery Canal! Public appeal.

This £253,000 funding will secure the next phase of the volunteer-led restoration to restore a further 360-metre section of the canal from Crickheath towards Schoolhouse Bridge, which was levelled nearly six decades ago.

Schoolhouse Bridge has just been rebuilt with money raised through the public appeal, removing the final public highway block and unlocking the potential for full navigation of the canal.

The volunteers will be managed by Shropshire Union Canal Society, building on their experience and success in restoring the canal to Crickheath Basin, which was reopened in June 2023.

The Montgomery Canal closed to boating in the 1930s following a serious breach of the banks near Frankton Locks in Shropshire. At a time of dwindling freight traffic across the canal system, rather than repairing the canal, it was left unrepaired. It was officially closed by the then owners London, Midland, and Scottish Railway via an Act of Parliament in 1944.

In 1969, following decades of decline, the restoration of the canal started with the ‘Big Dig’ in Welshpool and, since this date, volunteer organisations have been working to reopen the entire 35 miles of canal. 12 miles around Welshpool were restored in the 1970-90s but are not yet connected to the rest of the canal system.

The work to date has ensured that all 35 miles of towpath are accessible, with eight miles of canal in Shropshire made suitable for boating between Crickheath Basin and Frankton Junction where the canal joins the Llangollen Canal.

Nicola Lewis-Smith, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “This funding takes us one step closer to fully restoring the Montgomery Canal in Shropshire. Hundreds of volunteers, with support from the Canal & River Trust, have campaigned and worked tirelessly over many years to make this dream a reality and we’re getting nearer to our goal of having the canal back open.

“The restoration of another section of the Montgomery Canal will bring benefits to local people and businesses through regeneration, jobs, and leisure opportunities, as well as improving corridors for wildlife.”

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