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Montgomery Canal

The Montgomery Canal runs from the Llangollen Canal at Frankton Junction to its terminus at Newtown.

Things to do nearby

Bee near a plant
cheering group of wrg volunteers in hi viz and hard hats
Gronwen Wharf on the Montgomery Canal
Historic boat descending through a lock flight
Steamship Danny, moored by the Pumphouse at the Albert Docks in Liverpool

Facts & Stats

35 miles

(56 km)

The total original length of the Montgomery Canal from Frankton to Newtown.

25 locks

1987

Year partially re-opened

The canal was partially re-opened after restoration efforts following a breach in 1936 and formal abandonment in 1944.

From Llangollen Canal to Newtown

The Montgomery Canal passes through some of the most beautiful countryside adjacent to a canal in the UK. ‘The Monty’, as it is often referred to, is currently under restoration with sections from Frankton Junction to Gronwyn Bridge, Maesbury (6.5 miles) and Ardleen (bridge 103 lowered) to Berriew (bridge 129 lowered) – a further 11.5 miles – currently navigable. The canal runs for 35 miles from Frankton Junction near Ellesmere in Shropshire to Newtown in Powys.

 

Montgomery Canal restoration

This Montgomery Canal, as we know it today, was constructed by three different canal companies; however, it closed initially after a burst in 1936. Full closure came in 1944. Restoration started with a ‘Big Dig’ in Welshpool in 1969. Since then, IWA has received considerable support and assistance, with volunteers from WRG and Shropshire Union Canal Society restoring many structures, including the locks at Frankton, Aston, Carreghofa, Burgeddin Brynderwen and Newhouse.

Following determined restoration efforts by the Inland Waterways Association and Shropshire Union Canal Society, the canal was the subject of the first new Act of Parliament for its reopening in 1987. Restoration is still continuing to this day, and, as a result, there is now a sufficient navigable stretch around Welshpool to see hire boats operating.

Work is also currently underway to remove the two serious blockages on the stretch of the canal between Crickheath and the one-mile navigable section straddling the Welsh border at Llanymynech.

With the Heritage Lottery Fund already supporting reopening the canal to Crickheath, the project is helping to extend navigation by another couple of miles further into Wales. As well as opening up significant lengths of the canal to navigation and reaching the landmark of the Welsh border, this work is also helping to narrow the gap to the 12-mile isolated restored Welsh section. This section runs from Arddleen through Welshpool to Refail. When connected, over two-thirds of the canal will be continuously open and thus increasing the momentum to carry on through to Newtown.

As well as having one of the best collections of listed locks, bridges and other canal-age structures, the canal is of considerable ecological interest, which is an integral part of the restoration: IWA contributed to the original nature reserve at Aston Locks, created by WRG in 1995 as their largest such project to that date, thus allowing the opening of the restored canal to Maesbury.

Restoration has strong support on both sides of the border, mainly due to the considerable contribution made by volunteers over many years in work parties and with professional engineering, construction and other skills. A substantial bequest from a local member enabled IWA to fund the Aston reserve. IWA is assisting the Schoolhouse Bridge project with a significant grant from the Tony Harrison Legacy fund. In addition, the IWA’s local branch is also an active member of the team running the Restore the Montgomery Canal Appeal.

The restoration efforts are promoted by a partnership led by Canal & River Trust and includes local authorities, heritage and wildlife groups, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, IWA and Shropshire Union Canal Society. The Restoration Trust also has a subsidiary, Friends of the Montgomery Canal, which promotes support along the line of the canal: The Friends organise the popular Montgomery Canal Triathlon each year, bringing visitors and raising funds for the restoration.

In the autumn of 2016, the restoration won a £2.53million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards a £4.2million plan building on the Montgomery’s ecology, built heritage and communities that include extending navigation from Gronwen Bridge to Crickheath. In addition, plans are well advanced to restore Schoolhouse Bridge, the last remaining road blockage in Shropshire, which will help the canal to reach the Welsh border at Llanymynech.

In 2021, the UK Government awarded £16million of Levelling Up funding to support the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. The funding will be used to progress the restoration of navigation to a 4.4-mile section from the Wales-England border at Llanymynech to Arddleen.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 73′ 10″ (22.51 metres) – Frankton Locks
  • Beam: 7′ 0″ (2.13 metres) – Frankton Locks
  • Height: 7′ 0″ (2.13 metres)
  • Draught: 3′ 11″ (1.2 metres) – cill of Frankton Locks

Navigation authority

Canal & River Trust

Useful Info

Passage through Frankton Locks has to be booked with Canal & River Trust in advance (48 hours notice in the winter).

HS2: Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal

The latest HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement proposals affect the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal in the Wimboldsley area north of Crewe.

Local activities