The arrival of IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group at Schoolhouse Bridge on the Montgomery Canal for a full week’s Canal Camp at the end of August was a key moment for a critical phase of our most advanced local canal restoration.
The rebuild of Schoolhouse Bridge will remove the last blockage of the canal route in Shropshire before the Welsh border at Llanymynech. It has been years in planning, organisation and fundraising, supported by IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch along with other organisations from within the Montgomery Canal Partnership.
A volunteer-led restoration
We believe that it is possibly unique in the canal restoration world: a group of volunteers applying to close a public highway for a matter of months to replace an infilled road bridge with a new arch bridge to allow boats to pass beneath. Specialist contractors will be necessary for some of the major elements, such as the manufacture and installation of the pre-fabricated bridge arch. However, it will be essential to use largely volunteer labour for the rebuild to keep costs within the charity funds raised by the project.
So the week of preparatory tasks undertaken by the expert team from Waterway Recovery Group, one of only four Canal Camps staged in summer 2021, is a massive step towards the much-anticipated start of the main works in spring 2022.
Money for the rebuild has been raised through hugely generous public donations, a significant grant from Inland Waterways Association legacy funds and £5,000 from local branch fundraising, primarily from sales and donations collected by volunteers at lock winds and other waterside events.
Volunteers from across IWA have given their time and skills, not only in raising funds but extending even to the engineering design and specification of the bridge itself as well as the management of the project.