22 July 2012

The Full Monty

What is now known as the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles from its junction with the Llangollen Canal at Welsh Frankton, to Newtown in Powys. The canal was originally planned to run between Llanymynech and Newtown - it has never gone to Montgomery - and to be joined at the former with the Llanymynech Branch of the Ellesmere Canal. The 16 miles of the Eastern Branch of the Monty, between Llanymynech and Garthmyl, seven miles out of Newtown, were constructed by 1797.

The Western Branch, the last seven miles to Newtown, was built by a separate company, and completed in 1821. The Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company bought the Eastern Branch in 1847, and the western three years later, to form part of the Shropshire Union network. Accordingly, bridge numbers on what is now considered as the Montgomery Canal start at 71, with the bridges of the Llangollen Canal being split into two number sequences, east and west of Frankton Junction.

The canal, used primarily to transport lime, prospered by virtue of the fact that railways came late to the rural area through which it passes, but became increasingly run-down during the 1920s. It was disused from 1936, after a breach near the junction with the Llangollen Canal, and abandoned in 1944. It is very slowly being restored, through the efforts of volunteers who refuse to be awed by either the scale of the task or the sloth and blindness of local councils.

No comments: