Chirk Aqueduct: First horse-drawn boat to cross in decades

A horse called Taff took her across Thomas Telford's 700ft (210m) long link

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A horse-drawn narrowboat has crossed Chirk Aqueduct near Wrexham for the first time in decades.

Saturn, which carried cheese to Manchester 100 years ago, is the only floating example of a horse-drawn Shropshire Union fly-boat.

She has been restored to her former glory and made her way from Chirk to Llangollen where she will be displayed.

A horse called Taff took her across Thomas Telford's 700ft (210m) long link.

The aqueduct, which stands 70ft (21m) high, is a forerunner to the more famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct just down the road and is itself over 100 years old.

Start Quote

A fly-boat was a boat that ran 24 hours a day... a bit like your 'white van man' of today”

End Quote Sue Cawson Saturn Trust

Sue Cawson from the Saturn Trust, which owns the vessel, said: "It's a long time since anyone has taken a horse-drawn boat across the aqueduct - taking a boat pulled by a horse is something very, very special.

"It's much, much nicer than a rattly old motorboat," she added. "It's fast, its quiet, it's absolutely stunning."

Saturn was constructed in 1906 for the Shropshire Union Canal Carrying Company in Chester.

She was originally a transporter boat, explained Ms Cawson.

"A fly-boat was a boat that ran 24 hours a day taking from this area round to Manchester the valuable products of milk and cheese, a bit like your 'white van man' of today," she said.

'Very special'

The vessel was fully restored by the trust before being relaunched in 2002.

"We take her around the Wales and borders area, taking her to schools using her as an educational resource," said Ms Cawson.

"So we talk to the children about how [narrowboat operators] lived, how they worked, where the canals go to, what sort of cargo they carried."

Steve Furniss, one of the owners of Llangollen Wharf, said Saturn would stay there for about 10 days and would be on show during schools week.

"We've been trying to encourage schools to visit the wharf a bit more because it's very important to get the young generation interested in the canals," he said.

Saturn was very special, he added.

"She's the only surviving Shropshire Union fly-boat still in existence and is very special to us as she used to work this stretch of canal.

"In her working day it would have come up to the wharf so she fits in very well with the history of Llangollen Wharf."

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