Boats should return to a Shropshire village for the first time in 80 years thanks to a multi million pound lottery grant, with an aim to reconnect Welshpool (below) in ten years.
Plans to restore one of Britain’s most picturesque canals have received a major boost with the announcement that £4.2m of work to restore a further part of the Montgomery Canal is to get underway thanks to a £2.53m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, said, “We are delighted with the news of this grant for the project to reopen another length of the Montgomery Canal. Our ambition is to bring boats back to Welshpool in ten years, so that mid-Wales will again be joined to the 2000-mile national canal network, adding to the attraction of the area for visitors and providing an amenity for residents and opportunities for businesses and jobs.”
The bid, led by the Canal & River Trust and supported by the Montgomery Canal Partnership, is a major step forward in the 47-year restoration of the historic canal. About 50% of the canal has already been restored. With the help of volunteers, work is due to start in 2017 and should be completed in 2020. It will see a further 1¼ miles of the canal and a ‘winding hole’ reopen to Crickheath, Shropshire. It will also improve access to the canal, create new nature reserves (needed in view of Site of Special Scientific Interest aspects) and improve almost 4 miles of towpath between Welshpool and Llanymynech on the English border.
Known for its outstanding natural beauty and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between England and Wales. The canal is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in parts of England and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and also a Special Area of Conservation for the whole length in Wales for its abundance of aquatic plants.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust said: “This is fantastic news. We are delighted to be awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The money together with funding from other organisations will help carry out vital work towards the restoration of the Montgomery Canal which is one of the most beautiful waterways in Britain. I would also like to thank the volunteers for their continuing hard work which has kept the dream alive to restore the canal.”
John Dodwell, chair of the Montgomery Canal Partnership comments: “This is a major step forward in the restoration of one of Britain’s longest running canal restorations and fits into our recently announced 10 year restoration strategy for the canal. The vision of a restored waterway has been kept alive for almost half a century by an army of volunteers. The funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund will allow us to further tell the story of the canal and get more people from the local community involved in once again bringing it back to life.”
The Trust will be working with the 15 partner organisations which make up the Montgomery Canal Partnership. The Partnership aims to restore the canal fully within the next decade as a haven for people and nature. The project is also supported with funding from Powys County Council, Shropshire Union Canal Society, Inland Waterways Association, and the Friends of the Montgomery Canal.
Thanks to the IWA for most of this report.