THIS year promises to be the most significant yet for the restoration of the Montgomery Canal, claims Michael Limbrey, chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust.
The programme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund will see the establishment of a substantial new nature reserve at Aston Locks in Shropshire and dredging choked lengths of the canal in Wales.
This also includes rewatering the derelict length of canal to Crickheath Wharf, the next turning point on the canal, to extend the section connected to the Llangollen Canal by 1½ miles.
At the beginning of every month volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society will be running long weekend work parties, using machines to recreate the channel profile and then installing waterproof liner.
Other volunteer works include three week-long Canal Camps organised by the Inland Waterways Association’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). WRG works on canal projects across the country and these visits, with another by the WRG North-West group, will tackle leaks on the canal at Redwith.
This summer will again see the Montgomery Canal’s unique offering of boat trips: horse-drawn boat trips with Cracker at Canal Central, Maesbury Marsh (Cracker is one of the most literate of boat-horses, Tweeting regularly and contributing a monthly column in Towpath Talk), and cross-border trips on the G W Buck, named after a Victorian canal engineer, at the English-Welsh village of Llanymynech.
Lastly there are weekend trips with the Heulwen Trust in Welshpool, the first boats to offer free trips to the less able: they reckon to have provided over 69,000 trips over the years since the Prince of Wales launched the first boat in 1975.
The annual Montgomery Canal Triathlon, organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal on May 19, will bring over 200 entrants from across the country to cycle, hike and canoe the 35 miles from Newtown to the Weston Arm, below Frankton Locks, near Ellesmere.
Many entrants come year after year to join this popular family-friendly event, often bringing friends to take part for the first time: www.montgomerycanal.me.uk/Triathleaflet2018.pdf
The canal will feature in the Welshpool Transport Festival on June 23-24 ith a special musical contribution ‘Music for the Monty’ – www.MusicForTheMonty.co.uk.
The Triathlon and ‘Music for the Monty’ will be raising funds for the Restore the Montgomery Canal! Appeal, which is planning for the next stages of restoration after Crickheath Wharf. The first target for the appeal is Schoolhouse Bridge, the last remaining bridge blockage in Shropshire. Rebuilding this bridge with volunteers could cost up to £300,000: the appeal has so far raised over half this amount, including the grant of £70,000 from the Inland Waterways Association’s Tony Harrison Legacy Fund. The appeal is urgently seeking further support so that the bridge works can take place within the next couple of years.
The project for Schoolhouse Bridge has created an exciting opportunity for a project manager. The vacancy is advertised on the Restore the Montgomery Canal! website which describes plans for a new bridge with a prefabricated segmented concrete arch. It is intended to making extensive use of suitably skilled volunteers to reduce costs to a level where the bridge works can be funded.
Michael Limbrey, chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, said, “This is possibly the most exciting project in the long history of volunteers working to restore the Montgomery Canal. A qualified volunteer has been working on the design for some months now, and we now need someone to help carry those plans into effect.
“We expect construction could take six months and we expect that the preparation could take up to twelve months. We are keen to press on as soon as help can be arranged.
“This is a rôle that would suit someone retired or in the process of winding down their working life. We envisage a part-time position which could be largely conducted at home so the successful applicant would not have to live in the area.
“We are looking for someone with experience in civil engineering project management who would be able to work with varied skills and abilities. Many of our volunteers will have long experience of working on the Montgomery Canal or on other canal projects across the country, and are qualified to operate the machines they need, some of which are very big.
“Our project manager will work with a team undertaking the restoration under the supervision of the Montgomery Canal Partnership and will also have to ensure the bridge meets the requirements of the highway authority and the Canal & River Trust who own the canal.
“This is a unique opportunity to carry forward a unique canal restoration project. Rebuilding this bridge will open the way to restoration of the last length of derelict canal, which will be targetted after the channel has been restored to Crickheath Wharf.
“The rebirth of the Montgomery Canal as a boating route into mid-Wales will create opportunities for business and recreation while protecting its special wildlife habitats and the unique heritage of canal-age locks, bridges and aqueducts.”
Anyone interested in the position is invited to contact John Dodwell, Chair, Montgomery Canal Partnership at email@example.com or 07802-961485.
The Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal has now raised over £160,000. The Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust is keen to receive further donations to the appeal through www.LocalGiving.org/RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal .