THE final chapter of the latest restoration project on the Montgomery Canal south of Crickheath Bridge near Oswestry was enacted on Saturday, June 2.
Another 700m has now been restored, to advance the restoration towards Llanymynech, including a Winding Hole at Crickheath which enables boats to turn round there.
This section is now in water and a variety of the first boats to enter here from the National Canal network since 1936 were on show including Saturn, a traditional ‘Fly Boat’ once horse drawn, and Ictus an old, iconic passenger steam launch and a variety of other canal craft.
A plaque to commemorate the event had been unveiled at the official re-opening ceremony organised by the Canal & River Trust the day before.
The volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society, who have been responsible for the very demanding reconstruction of the channel over the last eight years, held their own celebration in a marquee next to the basin on that Saturday evening.
It was the custom when the canals were first dug in the 1800s to reward the navvies with a barrel of beer. This tradition was observed at the BBQ, enjoyed by over 70 volunteers and supporters, which was washed down with a barrel of Navigation Ale, sponsored by Monty’s Brewery from Montgomery.
A barrel was transported on the bow of narrowboat Yeltsa, from the national canal network at Audlem to Crickheath, to signify this first such journey since 1936 when the canal was closed due to a collapsed aqueduct near Frankton.
This was a very joyous and fitting conclusion, to a very challenging and rewarding project.