Phase 1: Gronwen to Crickheath
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The canal has already been restored from Gronwen Bridge to Pryce's Bridge. Phase 1, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is to complete the restoration from Pryce's Bridge to Crickheath Basin (allowing boats to turn), together with repairs to 12 heritage structures in Wales and dredging to improve the water quality for water plants. The new basin at Crickheath has been completed by contractors and volunteer working parties of the Shropshire Union Canal Society are hard at work to restore the dry section of canal leading to the basin. New nature reserves have been created at Aston Locks and are establishing well.
This phase includes activities led by a Community Development Officer so the restoration becomes 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 heritage structures is a way of developing local heritage skills, promoting an understanding of heritage and preventing further deterioration in these assets.Back to top of page
Phase 2: Crickheath to Llanymynech
Works focus on opening up navigation from Crickheath to Llanymynech. This will involve turning nearly 2 miles (3km) of currently dry and less rich biodiversity into a canal with marginal habitat important for nature acting as a ‘functional’ ecological corridor. This section includes Schoolhouse Bridge, the last road blockage in Shropshire.
Opening up the canal will greatly enhance tourism opportunities in Llanymynech, creating a destination hub with attractions such as the limekiln heritage area, Iron Age hill fort and links to Offa’s Dyke and Severn Way the long distance footpaths.
Opening the canal will also be the catalyst for the creation of privately financed marina with about a hundred berths and shopping area which would create jobs . 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 to the development.
With sufficient funding and volunteer support this phase could be delivered in 5 years from the its start.Back to top of page
Phase 3: Llanymynech to Arddleen
In this phase the 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 12 miles (20km) of re-opened canal either side of Welshpool. This will mean the canal will be navigable as far as Refail, south of Welshpool, 27 miles from Frankton Junction.
The work here will include major repairs to the Grade ll* listed Vyrnwy Aqueduct and restoring navigation past four lowered bridges, two for minor roads and two for the A483 main road. Proposed solutions for the four road crossings have already been drawn up by consultants and have more recently been reviewed by expert volunteers.
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 (particular to protect 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 nature reserves would provide a new visitor interest and be integral part of the canal experience.
The towpath in Wales has been improved over several years and is in good condition.Back to top of page
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 and again solutions were prepared some years ago. 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 can still be followed. 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 would like restoration to be complete in time for the Town’s celebration in 2019 of the 750th anniversary of the Town’s founding charter.Back to top of page