New fund-raising raffle to Restore the Montgomery Canal!

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal reviewed all they had achieved in the past year and coming events.

The Friends group was established over twenty years ago to promote the revival of the Montgomery Canal. The canal was abandoned eighty years ago but after restoration over many years over half the canal is now open. From the experience of other canals across England and Wales the Friends know the restored canal will be a real asset for visitors and residents in local communities of Shropshire and Powys.

It had been a momentous year for the Montgomery Canal, said Friends Chairman Christine Palin, with two very significant and visible restoration works. Firstly there was the re-opening of the canal to Crickheath opening a further 1½ miles of the waterway to navigation. Secondly, the raising of the new bridge at Schoolhouse which had been marked in January with a ‘roll over’ of vintage vehicles. She thanked the owners of those vehicles who took the time and trouble to prepare their vehicles and bring them along.

Christine Palin addresses the AGM.

Christine then paid tribute to the work of the various groups who contribute both to the restoration and to the upkeep of the canal – the Shropshire Union Canal Society, TRAMPS (the Canal & River Trust maintenance group based in Welshpool), the Wern Nature Reserve Task Force, the Friday Group, Welshpool Canoe Club and Waterway Recovery Group, all volunteers and a really ongoing important part of the Montgomery Canal. She also mentioned Canal Central, the popular Maesbury tea room where Friends canoes can be hired for a trip on the canal.

Speaking afterwards, Christine said: “Yet again the Friends have been very effective at promoting the canal, its restoration, and all it can mean to the mid-Wales borderland. Our main event of the year is the Montgomery Canal Triathlon showcasing sections of the canal which have been reopened and lengths which still have to be restored. It is a popular event which brings return visits by families as well as the more athletic. Almost 200 people took part last year and we are now booking entries for this year’s event on 18 May.

“Other regular Friends activities include guided walks along and around the canal, social meetings and a popular coracle event in Welshpool, all of which are well supported.
“While the Friends of the Montgomery Canal is the only membership organisation dedicated to the canal we work with other canal groups to support the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal which is now raising funds for volunteer work parties extending the canal towards Schoolhouse Bridge.

“The long effort to restore the canal highlights the benefits it can bring our area. The Montgomery Canal has an amazing heritage from its days as a byway of the canal network of England and Wales and a very special ecology which will be protected and enhanced as more of the canal is opened up. Reopening canals in other parts of the country has created an attraction for residents and visitors, whether on the towpath, on the water, or just watching the boats go by. The Montgomery Canal can bring these benefits to the borderlands of Montgomeryshire and Shropshire.”

The AGM concluded with the launch of a Grand Draw with cash prizes to support the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal. It is hoped that the many people who have generously helped the appeal so far will support the restoration again by taking part in the raffle. Profits of the draw will pay for materials and equipment needed by the volunteers who are continuing the restoration. Tickets for this next fund-raising project for restoration can be bought online at https://themontgomerycanal.org.uk/donate/raffle-2024.

The business of the meeting was followed by a talk by Nick Grundy, Vice Chair of the Shropshire Union Fly-boat Restoration Society which has restored Saturn, the last remaining horse drawn Shropshire Union Fly Boat. Built in Chester in 1906 Saturn and sister boats were the express delivery service of their day and it now travels the canals of Shropshire and Cheshire to tell their story.

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