Official reopening of Crickheath Wharf

The Montgomery Canal in Shropshire has reopened for boating and other users at Crickheath marking the completion of the next phase of restoration for the canal over 85 years since it closed.

Thanks to the support of volunteers and funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, a one-and-a-half-mile section of canal between Maesbury and Crickheath has now reopened meaning that 21 miles of the Montgomery Canal is now once again navigable for boating.

A steam launch brought VIP passengers including Helen Morgan MP and Shropshire Council leader, Lezley Picton to cut the Canal & River Trust ribbon to mark the occasion.

A new three-hectare wildlife habitat has also been created within Aston Locks nature reserve to provide a secure environment for aquatic plants, such as the rare Floating Water Plantain Luronium natans. The nature reserve will also provide homes to a range of wildlife including damselflies, dragonflies, otters, and water voles.

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “What these volunteers have achieved, with support from Canal & River Trust, is inspiring. They have worked tirelessly to restore this section of the Montgomery Canal from a derelict channel to a wonderful canal that boaters, walkers, and cyclists can now use and enjoy. I would also like to thank National Lottery players for supporting this wonderful project.

“There is still plenty of work to do with the volunteers starting on the next phase of the restoration from Crickheath Basin to Schoolhouse Bridge as well as the restoration of the canal in Wales which is being funded by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. As a charity with increasing cost pressures, it’s important we secure external investment to help us restore, protect, and preserve our historic waterways to ensure that we don’t see the decline that took place in the early 20th Century.

“Restoring the entire section of canal has never been closer and I’m looking forward to the day when boaters will once again travel from England to Wales along the Montgomery Canal.”

David Carter, chair of Shropshire Union Canal Society, said “Our volunteers have worked tirelessly for eight years on a very complicated piece of construction work of a type not normally done by volunteers. They have overcome several major challenges including very bad ground conditions, a high water table, the need to relocate the resident Great Crested Newts, and covid lockdowns. That they managed to complete the work to deadline, on budget and safely is to their great credit.”

John Dodwell, chair of the Montgomery Canal Partnership, said: “It’s marvellous to see put into place another part of the jigsaw to restore the 200 years plus old Montgomery Canal. It’s special built and natural heritage offers so much to local people and more widely; both donations and volunteers come from many parts of the country. The restored canal is also a boost to the regional tourist industry as visitors come to the area to spend their money.”

If you would like to support the restoration, you can do so here.

Thanks to SUCS Publicity for the photo.

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