History of the Montgomery Canal
The present day Montgomery Canal runs from Frankton Junction for 35 miles to Newtown with 25 locks. Previously, the original Montgomery Canal from Llanymynech to Newtown, became part of the Shropshire Union amalgamated canal network. It was constructed mainly to transport limestone from the Llanymynech quarries and coal from Chirk and Oswestry, for example, to canal side kilns. Therefore, quicklime was made and used to improve the soil quality and crop yield. However, with the introduction of the motor lorry, the use of the canal gradually diminished. As a result, it was formally closed in an Act of 1944 following de facto closure in 1936 after a major breach.
Moreover, Gronwen Wharf was linked to local coal mines by horse-drawn tramway. Peates Mill nearby had a fleet of ex SU horse boats. They were the last major users of the canal until 1933, when they moved to lorries. Cressy was one of their boats, for instance, that was sold off to LTC Rolt’s uncle in 1929 and converted for leisure use at Frankton. This boat and Rolt’s book “Narrowboat” consequently were instrumental in the formation of IWA.
Photo: Gronwen Wharf on the Montgomery Canal by Alan Wilding.