Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire has today (19th July) officially opened a section of the Montgomery Canal in Redwith, Shropshire, which has been filled with water for the first time in almost 80 years.
Following restoration work by volunteers, a 450-metre stretch of the 200-year old canal has been reconnected to the rest of the 2,000 mile canal network, opening it up to a flotilla of boats for the for the first time since 1935.
Known for its outstanding natural beauty and heritage the Montgomery Canal runs for 33 miles between England and Wales. The canal is navigable from Lower Frankton to Gronwen Bridge (seven miles in England), with limited access for narrowboats on the 8 miles from Arddleen to Refail in Wales. The remaining 7 miles from Refailto Newtown is still to be restored.
The six-year project led by volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) working with the Canal & River Trust restored a 450 metre stretch of the Montgomery Canal between Redwith and Pryces Bridge. Over 45,000 concrete bricks were used by volunteers to re-build the wash wall by hand and sealed with a modern watertight membrane.
Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust said: “This is remarkable work by volunteers to open up another 450 metres of the Montgomery Canal. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication which is another big step towards the canal’s full restoration.
“The Montgomery Canal is one of the most beautiful waterways in Britain and our aim, working with volunteers, is to restore more canals like the Montgomery so local communities can once again enjoy them and reap the benefits that they bring.”
Pat Wilson, chair of the Shropshire Union Canal Society added: “To see water in this section of the canal is wonderful. I am very proud of the professional work our volunteers have done to achieve this working in all weathers over the past six years. They are now preparing to work on the next section.”
Volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society will now work on the next section over the next two years to restore a 200 metre length which will include rebuilding a culvert. A further 600 metres will also be re-built subject to Heritage Lottery Funding.