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SHROPSHIRE CANALS 

  

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Montgomery Canal (Llanymynech Branch)

 

 

HISTORY

 

Miles

Locks

Opened

Closed

Route

33

24

1796

1796

-

1805

Frankton Junction  (SJ370319)

Weston Arm Junction (SJ369311)

Carreghofa Locks (SJ255203)

Weston Lullingfields (SJ421254)

 

What is known today as the Llanymynech Branch of the Montgomery Canal was originally planned to be part of the Ellesmere Canal, which was supposed to link the Rivers Mersey, Dee and Severn by running from Netherpool (now known as Ellesmere Port) to Shrewsbury. The idea was launched at a meeting in Ellesmere in 1791 and it was planned to serve the iron, coal and limestone industries around Wrexham, Ruabon and Llanymynech.

 

 

In the event, the canal never reached Shrewsbury and the main line via Wrexham was not built.  Instead, the canal was extended to Horseshoe Falls, west of Llangollen and a section from Whitchurch linked it to the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal at Harleston Junction. Thus the separate parts of the planned Ellesmere Canal subsequently became known as :-

 

Llangollen Canal - from Horseshoe Falls to Harleston Junction, with an arm to Prees Heath

 

Montgomery Canal (part of) – from Frankton Junction to Llanymynech, with an arm to Weston Lullingfields

 

Shropshire Union Canal (part of) - from Ellesmere Port to the Chester Canal.

John Duncombe surveyed the route and the engineer William Jessop was called in to advise.  There were major engineering obstacles with deep valleys and high ground, involving a climb of 303ft from Chester to Wrexham, a 4,607 yard tunnel at Ruabon, a high level crossing over the Dee at Pontcysyllte, a further tunnel and aqueduct near Chirk and a tunnel in Shropshire near Weston Lullingfields. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1793, Jessop being appointed as engineer and Thomas Telford as General Agent. Construction of the main line started from Ellesmere Port towards the Chester Canal and, at the same time, the part lying in Shropshire was driven north and south from Frankton. 

 

In 1794, an Act of Parliament was obtained to construct the separate Montgomery Canal from the end of the Llanymynech Branch to Newport. In 1796, the Llanymynech Branch was opened, linking the main line at Frankton Junction with Llanymynech. The following year, the canal company built a wharf, four lime kilns, public house, stables, clerk's house and weighing machine at Weston Lullingfields, which at that time was the southernmost end of the route to Shrewsbury.  In 1805, it was decided to abandon the main route of the Ellesmere Canal north as uneconomic, and at the same time, it was decided to abandon the plan to reach the Severn as the Shrewsbury Canal has already reached the town.  By that time, the canal had only reached Weston Lullingfields and the section from there to Frankton Junction was then called the Weston Branch. 

 

Meanwhile, the Montgomery Canal had reached the Llanymynech Branch at Carreghofa Locks in 1797 but had only progressed 16 miles south to Garthmyl.  Lack of funding meant that it was not extended beyond that point for a further 16 years. The funding was eventually obtained and allowed the remaining section to be opened in 1821.  The original part was known as the Eastern Section and the new part as the Western Section.  The Ellesmere Canal had merged with the Chester Canal in 1813, forming the Ellesmere and Chester Canal Company.  In 1845, the company merged with the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal and in 1846 became part of the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company. That company then bought the Eastern Section of the Montgomery Canal in 1847 and the Western Section in 1850.

 

Traffic on the canal was mainly local and mostly from on the limestone quarries and limekilns at Pant and Llanymynech plus coal from local pits around Oswestry. A significant traffic was the carriage of imported grain in to Maesbury Mill from Ellesmere Port. The canal company operated “fly” boats, which operated as a regular timed next-day delivery service until 1920. Some of the small warehouses for this traffic still remain in existence, whilst a tiny half-timbered building at Rednal still has pull-out stop and go boards that told the fly boat captain whether there was a collection to be made that day.

 

In 1917, the Weston Branch was closed following a breach near Hordley Wharf and there was a further breach of the Llanymynech Branch near Lockgate Bridge in 1936.  Traffic declined drastically and the canal was closed to navigation by London Midland & Scottish Railway Company Act of 1944.  . With the revival of canal use in the late 20th century, the canal between Frankton Junction and Llanymynech became known as the Llanymynech Branch of the Montgomery Canal. For historic reasons, the bridge numbering continues down the Montgomery Canal and a second bridge numbering series for the Llangollen Canal begins with Rowson's Bridge (which is numbered both 1W and 70). The "W" addition is a recent act by British Waterways, to avoid possible confusion, especially for emergency services, of having different bridges on the same canal with the same number.

 

Much of it is still closed to navigation but since 1969 the canal has been partially restored for use by pleasure boats.  At present only 7 miles of the northern section, from Frankton Junction to Gronwen Wharf, is navigable plus a short stretch at Llanymynech, ie

 

1987 - the locks at Frankton Junction were restored and officially reopened

 

1996 - the 4 mile section from Frankton Junction to Queen's Head was reopened.

 

2006 - restoration of Newhouse Lock,

 

2003 - the 3 mile section from Queen's Head to Gronwen Wharf was reopened.

 

2007 - the 875 yard section from Gronwen Wharf to Redwith Bridge was filled with water but is not open to navigation by motorised vessels. Restoration was started on the 437 yard  section from Redwith Bridge to Pryce's Bridge and restoration of Crickheath Wharf was started.

In the years following closure, wildlife flourished on the canal route and the whole of the Welsh section and parts of the English section (notably the section from the Aston Locks to Keeper's Bridge) were designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. In order to preserve the wildlife, nature reserves have been created at points along the canal, including Rednal Basin, most of the Weston Branch and a specially constructed reserve alongside the Aston Locks. Some winding holes have been given over to nature, with the one adjacent to Crofts Mill Lift Bridge having had boat barriers installed and the one adjacent to Park Mill Bridge allowed to be partially overgrown. There is a maximum of 1,250 boats per year allowed on the navigable section of the Llanymynech Branch of the Montgomery Canal and there are stricter speed restrictions than normally found on British canals, with speed limits of 2-3 mph for example on the navigable and connected part.

 

 ROUTE

 

(only the part lying in Shropshire is included)

 

1)  Frankton Junction – Perry Aqueduct

 

 

From Frankton Junction (SJ370319), the canal heads south through Frankton Top Lock (SJ370317), Frankton Middle Lock (SJ369316) and Frankton Bottom Lock (SJ369315). A lockkeeper looks after Frankton Locks, as the canal pound between the locks is small and water levels vary greatly as the locks are worked.  A short distance further on is the Weston Arm Junction (SJ369311) but only a short section of that remains in water and is used for mooring, with a British Waterways amenity block alongside. The main route heads west under Lockgate Bridge (SJ368311) and then south through a peat bog, which has been drained since the construction of the canal. This lowering of the water level has meant that during restoration the canal had to be lined to prevent leakage and a new lock was required to lower the water level. This lock was named Graham Palmer Lock (SJ367309), after the founder of the Waterway Recovery Group.  Further south, it passes a Winding Hole (SJ364300) and the Perry Aqueduct (SJ360298) over the River Perry. The aqueduct was replaced during restoration, since the old aqueduct had 3 arches but, due to the lowered water level, a single span was needed to avoid impeding the river's flow.

 

Frankton Junction

(P Scott)

 

 

Frankton Top Lock

(P Scott)

 

Frankton Bottom Lock

(P Scott)

 

Lockgate Bridge

(P Scott)

 

Graham Palmer Lock

(P Scott)

 

Perry Aqueduct

(P Scott)

 

2)  Perry Aqueduct – Aston Top Lock

 

 

The canal continues under Keeper’s Bridge (SJ351287) to Rednal Basin (SJ350278), which was originally used for transhipment between the canal and the Great Western Railway. Although the link to the basin still exists, the basin itself is unnavigable. The canal continues past a Railway Bridge (SJ352277), Heath House Bridge (SJ351276) and Corbett’s Bridge (SJ343271) to a Winding Hole (SJ340269).  It then continues past Queen’s Head Bridge (SJ339268) and the new A5 Bridge (SJ339268) to Aston Top Lock (SJ336264), which has a nature reserve alongside that was constructed during restoration.

 

Rednal Basin

(P Scott)

 

 

Rednal  Railway Bridge

(P Scott)

 

Heath House Bridge

(P Scott)

 

Queen’s Head Bridge

(P Scott)

 

Aston Top Lock

(P Scott)

 

3)  Aston Top Lock – Spiggot’s Bridge

 

 

After Aston Middle Lock (SJ332260) and Aston Bottom Lock (SJ329257), the canal passes Red Bridge (SJ327252) to a Winding Hole (SJ322249).  Just past this is Park Mill Bridge (SJ322249) and then Maesbury Marsh Bridge (SJ314250) and Spiggot’s Bridge (SJ310249).  Maesbury Marsh village was built alongside the canal and an environmentally friendly building, incorporating a Post Office, shop, tearoom and accommodation, was built just to the west of Spiggot's Bridge in 2006. Mooring is available along sections of the canal at Maesbury Marsh.

 

Aston Middle Lock

(P Scott)

 

 

Aston Bottom Lock

(P Scott)

 

Maesbury Marsh Bridge

(P Scott)

 

4)  Spiggot’s Bridge – Crickheath Bridge

 

 

A little further on the canal bends south via Croft’s Mill Lift Bridge (SJ305249), which requires a windlass to operate it, to the Croft’s Mill Arm Junction (SJ304249).  This has been restored for much of its length, giving access to a boatyard and private moorings. Further on is Gronwen Wharf Winding Hole (SJ304247), which is the current limit of navigation as at 2011.  The section from Gronwen Bridge (SJ304246) to Redwith Bridge (SJ301241) was re-opened in October 2007 but is not yet navigable by powered craft, as there is no winding hole on this section of the canal. Redwith Bridge had been lowered since the canal's closure but was rebuilt as part of the restoration and is now capable of taking narrowboats underneath once again.  The rest of the canal from Redwith Bridge to Llanymynech is dry and partially infilled. Restoration is gradually taking place from Redwith Bridge via Pryce’s Bridge (SJ298239) to Crickheath Wharf (SJ292236), which will be the next winding hole to be available when this section of canal is restored.  This is next to Crickheath Bridge (SJ292235).

 

Croft’s Mill Lift Bridge

(M Vye)

Gronwen Bridge

(M Vye)

Redwith Bridge

(D Mayall)

 

5)  Crickheath Bridge – Llanymynech Bridge

 

 

A little further on, the route passes Schoolhouse Bridge (SJ287231) and Waen Wen Bridge (SJ284229), before bending south to Pant Bridge (SJ277223).  The canal ran through Pant alongside the Oswestry & Newtown Railway, which later became part of the Cambrian Railways network. The Cambrian Railways Trust has restored a short section of the line between Llynclys and Pant and has plans to open a halt at Penygarreg Lane adjacent to the canal.  The two original railway bridges at SJ276219 and SJ271213  have been demolished but Greenfield Bridge (SJ274218) still remains.  The route passes a Winding Hole (SJ270213) and bends west to Llanymynech Wharf (SJ267211).  Llanymynech Bridge (SJ266210) is the border with Wales but the original junction with Montgomery Canal is a little further on at Carreghofa Locks (SJ255203).

 

Llanymynech Wharf

(P Scott)

Llanymynech Bridge

(P Scott)

 

Weston Arm

 

1)  Junction with Montgomery Canal - Hordley

 

 

From the Montgomery Canal Junction (SJ369311), there is only a short section with water to a stoplock (SJ371311).   This is used for mooring, with a British Waterways amenity block alongside.  The rest of the route to Weston Lullingfields has been infilled with features at :-

 

SJ381311 - Hordley Bridge and Wharf (infilled)

SJ384310 - Hordley Aqueduct (demolished)

SJ389307  Winding Hole (infilled)

 

2)  Hordley – Shade Oak

 

 

SJ395293 - Lower Hordley Bridge (infilled)

SJ395289 - Red House Bridge (infilled)

SJ397286 - Hadley Grove Bridge (infilled)

SJ400285 - Park House Bridge (demolished)

SJ402283 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ406279 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ412278 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ413276 - Shade Oak Bridge (infilled)

 

3)  Shade Oak – Weston Lullingfields

 

 

SJ414271 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ416270 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ418268 - Nillgreen Bridge (demolished)

SJ421263 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ420257 - Westonwharf Bridge (infilled)

SJ421257 - Weston Wharf (infilled)

SJ422254 - Bridge (demolished)

SJ421254 - End of Canal

Table of Features

 

Only features in Shropshire have links for Google map

 

Frankton Junction - Llanymynech

 

Location

Feature

SJ370319

Frankton Junction

SJ370317

Frankton Top Lock 1

SJ369316

Frankton Middle Lock 2

SJ369315

Frankton Bottom Lock 3

SJ369311

Junction with Weston Arm

SJ368311

Lockgate Bridge 71

SJ367309

Graham Palmer Lock 4

SJ364300

Winding Hole

SJ360298

Perry Aqueduct 72

SJ351287

Keeper’s Bridge 73

SJ350278

Rednal Basin

SJ352277

Railway Bridge

SJ351276

Heath House Bridge 74

SJ343271

Corbett’s Bridge 75

SJ340269

Winding Hole

SJ339268

Queen’s Head Bridge 76

SJ339268

New A5 Bridge 76A

SJ336264

Aston Top Lock 5

SJ332260

Aston Middle Lock 6

SJ329257

Aston Bottom Lock 7

SJ327252

Red Bridge 77

SJ322249

Winding Hole

SJ322249

Park Mill Bridge 78

SJ314250

Maesbury Marsh Bridge 79

SJ310249

Spiggot’s Bridge 80

SJ305249

Croft’s Mill Lift Bridge 81

SJ304249

Croft’s Mill Arm Junction

SJ304247

Gronwen Winding Hole

SJ304246

Gronwen Bridge 82

SJ301241

Redwith Bridge 83

SJ298239

Pryce’s Bridge 84

SJ292236

Crickheath Wharf Winding Hole

SJ292235

Crickheath Bridge 85

SJ287231

Schoolhouse Bridge 86

SJ284229

Waen Wen Bridge 87

SJ277223

Pant Bridge 88

SJ276219

Old Railway Bridge 89 (demolished)

SJ274218

Greenfield Bridge 90

SJ271213

Old Railway Bridge 91 (demolished)

SJ270213

Winding Hole

SJ267211

Llanymynech Wharf

SJ266210

Llanymynech Bridge 92

SJ261208

Wall’s Bridge 93

SJ259207

Wern Aqueduct

SJ257206

Causeway Lane Bridge 92

SJ256204

Junction of Llanymynech Branch and Main Canal

SJ253203

Carreghofa Top Lock 8

SJ254202

Carreghofa Bridge 95

SJ254202

Carreghofa Bottom Lock 9

SJ253200

Aqueduct

SJ254198

New Bridge 96

SJ254197

Aqueduct

SJ254196

Vyrnwy Aqueduct 96

SJ256195

Pentreheylin Bridge 97

SJ256193

Pentreheylin Hall Bridge 98

SJ265190

Parson’s Bridge 99

SJ265186

Clafton Bridge 100

SJ262180

Rhysnant Bridge 101

SJ264171

Maerdy Bridge 102

SJ264170

Limekiln Wharf

SJ261158

New A483 Bridge 103A

SJ260158

Ardllin Bridge 103 (demolished)

SJ255149

Dragon Bridge 104

SJ253148

Guilsfield Arm Junction

SJ253147

Burgedin Top Lock 10

SJ252147

Burgedin Bridge 105

SJ252146

Burgedin Bottom Lock 11

SJ251142

Red Bridge 106

SJ253136

Gwern Bridge 107

SJ254133

Tanhouse Bridge 108

SJ260129

Bank Lock Bridge 109

SJ260129

Bank Lock 12

SJ258125

Cabin Lock 13

SJ258122

Crowther Hall Lock Bridge 110

SJ258122

Crowther Hall Lock 14

SJ256116

Pool Quay Lock Bridge 111

SJ256116

Pool Quay Lock 15

SJ250105

Abbey Lift Bridge 112

SJ245099

Abbey Footbridge 113

SJ243093

Moors Bridge 114

SJ241089

Buttington Bridge 115

SJ237084

Gungrog Bridge 116

SJ234080

Gallowstree Bank Bridge 117

SJ228076

Clerk’s Bridge 118

SJ227075

Lledan Brook Aqueduct

SJ227074

Severn Street Bridge 119

SJ226073

Welshpool Town Lock 16

SJ222060

Whitehouse Bridge 120

SJ216053

Belan Lower Lock 17

SJ216052

Belan Locks Bridge 121

SJ216052

Belan Upper Lock 18

SJ210045

Sweeps Bridge 122

SJ207037

Chapel Bridge 123

SJ203030

Wernllwyd Bridge 124

SJ200023

Brithdir Lock 19

SJ199023

Brithdir Bridge 125

SJ198022

Brithdir Aqueduct

SJ197022

Luggy Bridge 126

SJ194014

Cefn Rallt Bridge 127

SJ193013

Berriew Lock 20

SJ192010

Long Bridge 128

SJ189006

Berriew Aqueduct

SJ192001

Refail Bridge 129

SO194993

Cefn Garthmyl Bridge 130

SO194992

Chain Garthmyl Bridge 131

SO194991

Nag’s Head Bridge 132

SO190987

Trwstllewelyn Aqueduct

SO189985

Trwstllewelyn Bridge 133

SO188983

Brynllwyn Bridge 134

SO185979

Penllwyn Bridge 135

SO182977

Halfway Bridge 136 (demolished)

SO181977

New A483 Road

SO179976

Bunker’s Hill Bridge 137

SO177974

Sadler’s Footbridge 138

SO177974

Sadler’s Turnbridge 139

SO176973

Abernant Bridge 140

SO174972

Dairy Bridge 141 (replaced by new A483 road)

SO173971

Red House Turn Bridge 142

SO168966

Glashafren Bridge 143

SO163955

Bryn Turn Bridge 144

SO163955

Brynderwyn Wharf Bridge 145

SO163954

Brynderwyn Lock Bridge 146

SO163954

Brynderwyn Lock 21

SO162952

Brynderwyn New Road Bridge 147

SO158948

New A483 Road

SO156946

Byles Lock Bridge 148

SO156946

Byles Lock 22

SO152944

Newhouse Lock Bridge 149

SO152944

Newhouse Lock 23

SO150943

Newhouse Bridge 150

SO143935

Aberbechan Kiln Bridge 151

SO142935

Aberbechan Aqueduct

SO142934

Aberbechan Road Bridge 152

SO139930

Freestone Bridge 153

SO139930

Freestone Lock 24

SO136926

Dolfor Lock Bridge 154

SO136926

Dolfor Lock 25

SO134925

Dolfor Bridge 155

SO129926

Porthouse Turn Bridge 156

SO125925

Rock Lock Bridge 157

SO125925

Rock Lock 26

SO124924

Rock House Bridge 158

SO117922

Newtown Pumphouse Footbridge 158A

SO115919

Foundry Bridge 159

SO114918

Wagon Bridge 160

SO113917

Newtown Basin

 

Weston Arm to Weston Lullingfields

 

Location

Feature

SJ369311

Junction with Montgomery Canal

SJ371311

Moorings & Stoplock

SJ381311

Hordley Wharf (infilled)

SJ381311

Hordley Bridge (infilled)

SJ384310

Hordley Aqueduct(demolished)

SJ389307

Winding Hole (infilled)

SJ395293

Lower Hordley Bridge (infilled)

SJ395289

Red House Bridge (infilled)

SJ397286

Hadley Grove Bridge (infilled)

SJ400285

Park House Bridge (demolished)

SJ402283

Bridge (demolished)

SJ406279

Bridge (demolished)

SJ412278

Bridge demolished)

SJ413276

Shade Oak Bridge (infilled)

SJ414271

Bridge (demolished)

SJ416270

Bridge (demolished)

SJ418268

Nillgreen Bridge (demolished)

SJ421263

Bridge (demolished)

SJ420257

Westonwharf Bridge (infilled)

SJ421257

Weston Wharf (infilled)

SJ422254

Bridge (demolished)

SJ421254

End of Canal

 

Guilsfield Arm to Tyddyn Wharf

 

Location

Feature

SJ253148

Junction with Montgomery Canal

SJ252147

Bridge

SJ245140

Deep Cutting Bridge

SJ242137

Vatchoel Bridge

SJ236132

Bridge

SJ235128

Bridge

SJ229125

Tyddyn Wharf