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The Plan to Restore the Montgomery Canal

Map of the Montgomery Canal

Phase 1: Gronwen to Crickheath

Download the Ten Year Strategy document

The Canal has already been restored from Gronwen Bridge to Pryce’s Bridge. Phase 1 would be to complete the restoration from Pryce’s Bridge to Crickheath Basin (allowing boats to turn). The work mainly relates to the provision of additional nature reserves at Aston; this will satisfy the reserves need for the rest of the Canal in Shropshire. Phase 1 also includes works to 12 heritage structures in Wales as well as dredging to improve the water quality for water plants.

This phase will include the implementation of significant activity and interpretation strategies for the Canal led by a Community Development Officer manage supported by a volunteer leader; the restoration will become a focal point for people to learn about the heritage of the waterway or participate in training in a range of specialist skills. This phase is key to building the community involvement and skills necessary for the delivery of subsequent works. The conservation works on the 12 heritage structures is seen as a way as a way of building the development of local heritage skills, promoting an understanding of heritage and preventing further deterioration in these important assets.

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Phase 2: Crickheath to Llanymynech

Works focus on opening up navigation from Crickheath to Llanymynech. This will involve turning nearly 3 km of currently dry and less rich biodiversity into a canal with marginal habitat important for nature; acting as a ‘functional’ ecological corridor.

Opening up the Canal will greatly enhance the tourism offer of Llanymynech, creating a destination hub, which includes attractions such as the limekilns, Iron Age hill fort and links to the long distance foot paths of Offa’s Dyke and the Severn Way.

Opening the Canal will also be the catalyst for the creation of a c100 berth marina and shopping area through private finance which would an additional destination, offer retail facilities and create jobs through its associated spend. Whilst this would be on the existing navigable section at Queens Head, the site owners have said they see the restoration to Llanymynech as being a pre-requisite.

There are several key activities that need completing in phases 1 and 2 but we are confident that they can be delivered in 5 years from the commencement of the phase, given sufficient funding and volunteer support

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Phase 3: Llanymynech to Arddleen

In this phase our focus will be on opening up the channel for navigation between Llanymynech and Arddleen so re-connecting Welshpool to the national network. Restoration will link the 20 km of re-opened Canal either side of Welshpool. This will mean the Canal will be navigable as far as Refail, south of Welshpool.

The work here will include overcoming engineering challenges in the form of four lowered bridges, two relating to minor roads and two relating to the A483 main road. Proposed solutions for the four road crossings have already been drawn up by consultants. Work to carry out major repairs to the Grade ll* listed Vyrnwy Aqueduct will be included.

Opening up this section will also require excavation and restoration works to the channel. Dredging and bank protection works will need to be done carefully and sympathetically as the Canal in Wales is a Special Area of Conservation and of particular value is the population of Floating Water plantain and Grasswrack Pondweed. The aquatic plants are particularly sensitive to disturbance by boats but neither will they flourish if the canal is left to nature.

This phase of restoration will see the creation of substantial further offline nature reserves to protect and conserve the environment. The provision of the nature reserves would create the largest of its type in Wales and provide a new visitor destination and integral part of the visitor experience to the Canal.

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Phase 4: Refail to Newtown

The Canal is in water from Refail to Freestone Lock where a water feeder enters the Canal. There are four road crossings to be dealt with in this phase; solutions were worked up some years ago. When the Abermule by-pass was built in the 1970s, the bridge was built at a navigable height. This section is owned by the Trust. From Freestone lock into Newtown, the Canal has been sold off and in some parts has been filled in – but the course of the Canal is still there and the towpath has in recent years been repaired. Works in this phase include dealing with four road crossings, careful and sympathetic dredging and bank protection and digging out the filled in section on the outskirts of Newtown.

Newtown Town Council resolved in 2015 to support the restoration of the Canal back into Newtown. During the course of public consultation about developing the town plan, restoration was placed by the public as high as fifth out of 60 possible projects. The Town Council wish the restoration to be complete in time for the Town’s celebration in 2019 of the 750th anniversary of the Town’s founding charter.

The Partnership see this phase as being the last of the four but are open to initiatives from Newtown Town Council to start earlier.

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