Forum to mark the bicentenary of the canal reaching Newtown

Last year, the bicentenary of the opening of the Montgomery Canal in Newtown will be marked at a meeting in the town.

This year, the Montgomery Canal Forum will be held at the Elephant and Castle Hotel on Monday, June 20, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

There will be presentations on:
Montgomery Canal projects under recent multi-million UK government grants
success of restored Droitwich Canal
the Montgomery Canal as an asset for Mid-Wales tourism and
Open Newtown plans for sustainable community projects in Newtown.
There will also be news of events along the canal and plans for future restoration work in Shropshire and Powys.

After the Covid disruptions, the Forum will mark the bicentenary of the final opening of the canal to Newtown last year.

Keynote speakers will be Val Hawkins, Managing Director of Mid Wales Tourism and Jason Leach Canal & River Trust, Head of External Program Delivery.

Jason led the recent highly successful restoration of the Droitwich Canal in Worcestershire and is now working with his team on the multi-million fund leveling projects for the Montgomery Canal.

The Forum is organized by the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, which since 1980 has brought together the public and voluntary organizations interested in the future of the canal.

Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chairman Michael Limbrey said: “The Montgomery Canal was built by three different companies and opened at the roadside hamlet of Garthmyl in 1797.

“It has taken a few years to complete the extension to Newtown where we are hosting this year’s Forum. Newtown was the farthest edge of the Shropshire Union Canal network in mid Wales and the town section did not was finally opened only in 1821. Obviously commemorating the bicentenary last year was not easy, but we cannot let it go unnoticed.”

He added: “After years as a ‘branch’ of the national waterway system, the Montgomery Canal was closed in 1936. During the years of restoration, more than half of the canal was returned to service – eleven miles through Welshpool currently cut off from the national canal system, and seven miles in Shropshire linked to places as far apart as London, Birmingham and Manchester.

“The restoration ensures the protection of Montgomery’s unique ecology and its special collection of locks, bridges and aqueducts from the canal age.

“Shropshire Union Canal Society volunteers are working on finishing the weatherproof surfacing for the lottery-backed project to extend the canal to Crickheath near Oswestry.

This year should also see the start of the project promoted by the Restore the Montgomery Canal group to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge, the last roadblock in Shropshire.

The recent appeal for the bridge continues to receive generous donations from supporters across the country for which we are very grateful – they are a massive help as we face the terrible challenges of inflation in the construction sector.

Mr Limbrey said: “In mid Wales, UK Government grants for Powys mean more canalside nature reserves and plans to tackle more road blockages as a major step to extend the Welshpool section to the border at Llanymynech.

“The benefits of restored canals have been seen across the country. Many reopened canals are now popular parts of the waterway system, often with honey trap sites attracting boat-watching crowds.

“One of the most successful restorations has been the Droitwich Canal in Worcestershire: our keynote speaker, Jason Leach, was the project manager for this restoration and is proud of the benefits it has brought to residents and visitors. Visitors are so important to Mid Wales and Val Hawkins. of Mid Wales Tourism will be able to tell us about the benefits of bringing boats back to Mid Wales.

The Forum will be an opportunity to discuss any questions regarding the future of the Montgomery Canal and what it can bring to the region. This is a public meeting open to anyone interested in restoring and developing the Montgomery Canal for present and future generations.

It was hoped that the Forum would be held in Open Newtown’s new Riverside Venue, a sustainably designed and built low-energy gateway to Newtown’s green spaces, which was the starting point for the recent Montgomery Canal Triathlon, but the building will not be available. on time.

Melvin B. Baillie