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LLANGOLLEN CANAL;ELLESMERE CANAL;SHROPSHIRE UNION CANAL,

Manylion y Safle

© Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 405725

Cyfeirnod Map SJ24SE

Cyfeirnod Grid SJ2600041441

Awdurdod Lleol Wrecsam

Hen Sir Dinbych

Cymuned Chirk

Math o Safle CAMLAS

Dosbarth Cyffredinol CLUDIANT

Cyfnod Ôl-Ganoloesol

Disgrifiad o´r Safle The Llangollen Canal, formerly known as the Ellesmere Canal, was the idea of a group of Shropshire land owners who wanted better trade routes for the export of agricultural products from the county, and who also wanted to be able to exploit the new centres of industry that had gown up around the coal fields and iron works along the Welsh border. They obtained an Act of Parliament for the canal's construction in 1793, and set up the Ellesmere Canal Company. A Committee was set up and raised money through the sale of shares in the company. William Jessop was employed as Civil Architect for the project, with Thomas Telford beneath him carrying out the duties of architect, engineer, overseer and numerous other tasks involved in the day to day running of the project.

The ultimate objective of the project was to link the Atlantic ports of Liverpool and Bristol by creating inland waterways between the Mersey and the Dee across the Wirral, the Dee at Chester and the Severn at Shrewsbury. Two main routes for the canal were considered, known as the Eastern and Western Routes due to the fact that they ran to the east and west of the River Dee respectively. Although crossing more difficult terrain, the Western Route was adopted and construction began.

By 1795 the Wirral canal, and the Frankton to Llanymynach Branch line were completed, and between 1795 and 1805 the Hurleston to Llangollen section was built. The countryside that this section crossed was mountainous and posed Jessop and Telford with their greatest engineering challenges. Two major tunnels, the Chirk Tunnel and the Whitehurst Tunnel, had to be bored, as well as a number of open cuttings, but the two major challenges were provided by having to cross the Ceiriog to the west of Chirk and the River Dee to the south of Pontcysyllte. In both instances Jessop and Telford abandoned the traditional idea of building low level stone and clay aqueducts with locks to raise and lower the level of the canal, in favour of high level crossings that could continue the levels of the canal uninterrupted. In order to produce such lofty structures, the design of each relied on the revolutionary use of cast iron to produce watertight troughs to form the channel of the aqueduct. At the south end of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct the canal continued long the Pontcysyllte embankment, at the time the largest earthwork in Europe.

By 1800 the idea of constructing the whole western Route had to be abandoned, and the link from Chester through to Shrewsbury was never realised. Instead a number of tramways were constructed linking the industries around Wrexham, Ruabon, Bersham and Brymbo to the Trefor Wharf at the north end of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the limestone quarries and limeworks around Pant, Porthywaen, Nantymawr and Llanyblodwel to the Llanymynach branch line and slate quarries at Oernant and Glyn Ceriog to wharfs on the Hurleston to Llangollen section. This was renamed the Llangollen Canal.

These excellent combined transport routes led to many new industries growing up in the area, including flour milling, brick making and chemical plants. Eventually however, the railways began to dominate the transportation trade, the canal becoming subsidiary to them. In 1944 many sections of the canal were closed, the Hurleston to Llangollen section surviving due to its use by various Water Boards as an open pipeline. In recent years the growth of tourism has ensured the future of the canal, the Llangollen Canal being one of the most popular waterways for canal holidays in Britain.

S Fielding, RCAHMW, 12 February 2007

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