Public meeting to hear of canal’s restoration plans
With so much activity on the Montgomery Canal at Crickheath, a few miles from Oswestry, it’s fitting that this year’s Montgomery Canal Forum will be held in the border market town.
The event, which will be opened by Steve Charmley, deputy leader of Shropshire Council, will take place at The Memorial Hall, Smithfield Street, Oswestry, at 2.30pm on Tuesday, May 21.
Open to the public, the meeting will review everything currently happening on the Montgomery Canal, including the programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, plans for future restoration and the recent Inland Waterways Association report, Waterways in Progress, which shows that there can be value from a restored canal while restoration is continuing.
Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chairman Michael Limbrey said: “The forum will review all the exciting developments on the Montgomery Canal, including progress with the Lottery-supported restoration to Crickheath Wharf, plans to rebuild the last bridge blockage in Shropshire with the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal and preparations for future stages of restoration.
“The forum is just a few days after the Montgomery Canal Triathlon on May 18, so we shall be able to hear how the event went. In previous years, entrants have come from far and wide and have told us they have really enjoyed their day on the canal. I am sure that will be the same this year.
“The Montgomery Canal is part of the national network of waterways stretching from Mid Wales to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, London’s Docklands and the south-west of England.
“Today, there are over 40 waterway restorations but not many of them have the advantages we have: apart from the final length into Newtown, the line of the canal is all owned by the Canal & River Trust, the national waterway charity, the locks have all been restored, there is a ready water supply and half the canal has been reopened. The canal has too a fine collection of canal-age buildings and some very special aquatic flora and fauna which will be all safeguarded as restoration progresses.
“The principal feature of the forum will be a recent report by the Inland Waterways Association highlighting benefits created by restoration before a waterway is fully reopened. The report, Waterways in Progress, is introduced by Inland Waterways Association’s vice-president David Suchet. It builds on the experience of canal restorations across the country where nearly 500 miles of waterway have been reopened in the last 50 years. Some of them are today among the most popular parts of the system.
“We can see benefits on the Montgomery Canal today, with Canal Central and its tearoom, the watersport base at Shropshire Paddlesport, the popular pubs at Queen’s Head and Maesbury and no less than three boat trips on offer – one by the Heulwen Trust, pioneer of boat trips for people with disability – not to mention popular events such as the Montgomery Canal Triathlon and Welshpool Transport Festival.
“We know there will be more opportunities for local communities and visitors as the canal is restored to Llanymynech and into Mid Wales.”
Picture: The Vyrnwy Aqueduct on the Montgomery Canal.