The Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust is pleased to have received planning permission for the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge, near Oswestry.
The Montgomery Canal was abandoned in 1944 along with other parts of the Shropshire Union Canal system and the old canal bridge on Long Lane was demolished when the canal lay derelict. The canal’s restoration started fifty years ago with a major work party in Welshpool drawn from local residents and canal enthusiasts from the Shropshire Union Canal Society and the Waterway Recovery Group (which adopted the name shortly after the event).
Current restoration supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund will see the canal reopened to Crickheath Basin, leaving two miles of dry canal in Shropshire. Schoolhouse Bridge is on this section and is the last road blockage before the Welsh border.
Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust said, “A team from the local canal charities has been working together to promote the next stages of restoration. In the last three years our Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal has raised most of the money we need to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge though we are still keen to receive donations to complete the funding.
“We submitted our planning application in the summer with the help of the Canal & River Trust, which owns the canal, and permission has now been granted. There are a number of detailed conditions we now have to comply with and we then aim to start work next year.
“This really will be one of the most exciting projects on the Montgomery Canal and indeed on any of the canal restorations around the country. Canal restoration volunteers are very skilled and many are trained to use major pieces of equipment: they have restored many bridges, locks and weirs on other canal restorations and at times they have had to build bridges or other structures from scratch.
“We want to use these skills at Schoolhouse Bridge because the only way we can fund the rebuild is by using volunteers as much as possible. Volunteer teams will clear the site, dig out the old road embankment and install the foundations and abutments for the bridge. Then we shall bring in specialist contractors to install the arch before volunteers return to lay the base for the road which will be finished by more specialist contractors.
“I am delighted to say that Shropshire Council have been very supportive and have said we can close the road to allow this work to take place. They know of course that the restored canal can bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the area and it is for these very reasons that enthusiasts have been working for so many years to reopen the canal and that supporters have been so generous in supporting the appeal.
“Now planning permission has been obtained, we are pressing ahead with the design details for final approval. At the same time we are building up our team for the project itself. We have a core team to manage the work and would like to recruit local volunteers to assist with supervision or receive deliveries for the next working party and carry out other essential tasks to maintain progress. We could arrange any necessary training. Members of this team would be playing a valuable part in restoring this vital link on the canal, something to be proud of. Anyone interested should contact me at [email protected] or through our appeal website www.RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal.uk.”
Picture courtesy of Graham Mitchell