Llangollen Canal closed by storm damage

The Llangollen canal has been closed by bank damage caused by the recent heavy rain storms about 1 mile below Marbury lock. The closure runs from Marbury lock to Bridge 22 near Wrenbury. CRT estimates repairs will take 2 to 3 weeks.

Damaged bank near Marbury

Update 19/7/2019
The repairs are now completed and boating restrictions removed.

Update 20/06/2019:
CRT have announced that from Monday 24 June restricted passage through the ongoing repairs will be possible for 2 hours a day, from 8.30-9.30 am and 4-5 pm daily, until works are completed. They ask boaters to turn off engines when approaching the main work area where they will be assisted by banksmen.

Traffic on this busy canal is already restricted due to the continuing subsidence of Hurleston bottom lock, reported here in April. The canal is normally very popular with both hirers and private boaters but this season many are being discouraged by uncertainty about whether they will be able to access and then leave the canal.

River WeaverIn this latest incident the canal washwall, towpath and beneath it the narrow embankment which separates the canal from the young River Weaver (right) – running alongside at a lower level at this point – are all affected.

It is thought that severe downpours in the local area on June 11th and 12th caused overtopping  leading to structural damage to the wash wall, towpath and embankment.

Fortunately the embankment has not actually been washed away, something which caused multi million pound damage near Middlewich last year and Dutton a few years ago.

Damage to canal bankThe towpath edge (right) seems to have been eaten back behind the steel piling by as much as 2 feet over a length of about 10 yards, however the towpath surface is still otherwise intact. Worryingly on the river side of the towpath there is also visible erosion (above right). The stability of the embankment must be a major concern to engineers.

In a 16/6/19 update CRT engineers report that the water level in the area has been reduced and the tarpaulin sheet installed over the affected section of bank and in the canal bed should prevent further washout. They say that although this has stabilised the situation they the water levels and condition of the bank will continue to be closely monitored. The canal will remain closed and the towpath closed between Bridge 21, Wrenbury Frith Bridge and Bridge 23, Church Bridge.

CRT contractors are mobilising a crane barge on Monday 17 June to start the repairs. This involves installing rock fill to the toe of the embankment and new steel piles to reinstate the canal bank. Once the piles have been installed CRT will review the method of works to determine if we are able to complete the repairs under a restriction to navigation.

Many local fields are flooded and it is possible that run off into the river and the canal combined with the volumes of water coming down the canal through Shropshire from the River Dee at Llangollen have overwhelmed the sluices which normally control canal levels.

A major task of the canal, one that ensured it was kept open long before the leisure boom, is to bring drinking water out of Wales to feed the Cheshire reservoir at Hurleston. Controlling the water flowing down from the Dee to the reservoir at Hurleston at safe levels has long been an important task for waterways personnel on this canal. Traditionally lengthsmen would balance sluices and lock paddles to keep water flowing at safe levels. Since the recent reorganisation of CRT Regions the management of the canal is now split; from Llangollen to a few miles above Marbury lock is still part of the North West region, lower down is now part of the West Midlands region.

Trapped boats queuing at Marbury lock

Boats are now queuing above Marbury lock and in Wrenbury. Hire boats are trapped on the wrong side of the closure which will cause problems for operators.

You can view the stoppage notice and its map online on the CRT website.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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