THE Shropshire Gap has become the colloquial term for the unrestored section of the Montgomery Canal between Crickheath Basin to Llanymynech, on the Welsh border.
But the gap is steadily diminishing as work continues at Crickheath South and Schoolhouse Bridge.
This work has been helped in no small part by public donations and volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) working at Crickheath South, but recently funds have been bolstered by several grants.
Tom Fulda, project manager for SUCS, explained: “The grant of £14,600 from the Association of Industrial Archaeology has been widely reported and work on the Tramway Wharf wall is well under way with help from members of the Dry Stone Wall Association who are bringing their expertise to the project.
“The National Grid Electricity Distribution awarded a grant of £7351 to the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust from its Community Matters Fund for environmental improvements. And work on the 320m of towpath, being built by our volunteers from SUCS, is nearly complete with the scheduled 75m of tree planting to follow.
He continued: “Oswestry Rural Council has also given money to help with the improvements of the towpath and there has already been a marked increase in footfall. Weeping Cross is a charitable organisation set up in the 1960s to support the restoration and conservation of historic industrial sites and it has donated £1000 for tools that are now at work on the project.
“And finally, the Postcode Lottery has given a grant of £17,000 from its Local Trust for Community Projects to help the canal reach Schoolhouse Bridge. We are so grateful to all these organisations for their help and support as we beaver away, restoring the Tramway Wharf wall, the channel from Crickheath Bridge to Schoolhouse Bridge and of course, the towpath, which is coming on in leaps and bounds.”
Tom added: “We’ve had so many positive comments from passers-by as they enjoy the beautiful rural landscape and hopeful boaters, who can’t wait to cruise down to Schoolhouse Bridge and beyond. I would encourage everyone to come and have a look at the work that’s going on – it’s a great local endeavour.”
There are two water test areas set up at present to see if the canal channel needs to be lined as it was not originally when it was built in the 1790s.