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Whitchurch Arm (Llangollen Canal)

The Whitchurch Arm, previously unused since at least the 1930s, has been revived as an initiative prompted by Whitchurch Town Council, and the first quarter of a mile re-opened in 1993.

Map of the Whitchurch Arm

Facts & Stats

1 mile

(1.6 km)

The original length of the Whitchurch Arm, when built.

0.25 mile

(0.4 km)

The current restored length of the Whitchurch Arm


Date of re-opening

The Canal was re-opened, as far as Chemistry Bridge.

About the Whitchurch Arm

The Whitchurch Arm was built by the Ellesmere Canal Company and opened in stages between 1808 and 1811.  Its use had ceased in the 1930s, and it was formally abandoned, along with the Llangollen Canal, in 1944.  When the latter was reopened in the 1950s, the Whitchurch Arm was not, as it had been filled in by 1950.  In 1983, Whitchurch Town Council funded a feasibility study to see if restoration was possible and Whitchurch Arm Trust was set up in 1986.

The Trust secured grants to fund the restoration of the first section of the Arm from its junction with the Llangollen Canal to the bridge at Chemistry, and this was completed in October 1993.  The Trust now owns and maintain this section, including Chemistry Bridge and derives income from long-term moorings on the Arm.

The Trust plans to extend the canal under Chemistry Bridge and create a new basin with moorings, which would enable boats to moor closer to the town.  Planning permission has been obtained and the work costed at about £650k, although this figure will have risen with materials and construction costs.   The route is safeguarded through a country park called Whitchurch Waterway Country Park, through which flows Staggs Brook, which could be opened out to form the extension to the Arm towards a new basin in the town.  The extended arm needs to be along a new line, as this end of the Arm has been built over since the original canal was abandoned.  Funding has yet to be raised, so there are no immediate plans for works to start.

[The photo shows the Whitchurch Arm on a freezing winter day  –  by Robert Silverwood]

Waterway notes

Maximum sizes

The maximum size of boat that can travel on the Whitchurch Arm is the same as the Llangollen Canal main line, as there are no locks or bridges to restrict dimensions.

  • Length: 73′ 10″ (22.51 metres)
  • Width: 7′ 0″ (2.13 metres)
  • Headroom: 7′ 0″ (2.13 metres)
  • Draught: 3′ 11″ (1.2 metres)

There is room for boats to turn just before Chemistry Bridge at the end of the Arm.

Useful Info

  • The Arm is owned  and managed by Whitchurch Waterway Trust.
  • Long term moorings are available on the offside of the Arm, winter moorings on the towpath, and from Easter to October there are free 48-hour moorings on the towpath.
  • An annual boat festival is held on the Arm during the first weekend of each September.
  • There are no boaters’ facilities on the Arm, but water, pump out and Elsan disposal are available at the top of Grindley Brook locks, less than one mile away.
  • There is a boatyard (Whitchurch Marina – ABC Leisure Group) and hire base, about 0.25 mile from the Arm entrance (towards Llangollen).

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.