in the last 30 years or so, many have been re-opened and have taken
on a new life as leisure areas for boating enthusiasts and practically
anyone who likes a walk in the country.
Shropshire, the Shropshire Union Canal connects Ellesmere Port (on
The Mersey) with Wolverhampton, as well as linking up to the Llangollen
and Montgomery Canals.
told that Britain is entering a new age of canals. British Waterways
is pumping £500 million into restoring the canal network -
and even building new ones.
now a campaign has been launched to re-open one of Shropshire's
forgotten canals, the Shrewsbury & Newport.
canal was one of many built in the mid to late 18th Century in order
to move large quantities of raw materials and coal from one place
area now occupied by Telford was criss-crossed with several canals
linking the many coal pits in the area with the ironworks that needed
the coal. Donnington Wood Canal was the first, opening in 1768,
and by 1793 it was decided to build a canal linking up the industrial
network with Shrewsbury.
canals were designed to carry tub boats rather than the narrowboats
we see on today's canals. Tub boats were, as the name suggests,
simply tubs filled with cargo and then put together in 'trains'
that were hauled by horses.
canal once ran behind this pub in Shrewsbury on its way to
the terminus at The Buttermarket. Today this part of the route
is choked with weeds.
Josiah Clowes was appointed chief engineer, but when he died half
way through the project he was replaced by his assistant - Thomas
Telford, who at that time was just making his name.
of his first tasks was to rebuild the stone aqueduct over the River
Tern at Longden which had been swept away in floods. It was rebuilt
using a 62 yard trough made of iron cast in Ketley, and this aqueduct
still stands today - marooned in the middle of a field.
eastern end of the canal was to be linked up with the Wombridge
Canal in the Telford area - and this presented a problem. The Wombridge
Canal was 75 feet higher up than the Shrewsbury one, so an inclined
plane - a slope with rail tracks on it - was built to allow the
boats to be transferred from one canal to another.
Shrewsbury Canal was finally finished in 1797, although it operated
in isolation from the rest of the British canal network.