Monday, 29 April 2013

The Montgomery Canal.


This week we are moored at Maesbury Marsh on the Montgomery Canal.The Montgomery was formed when a branch of the Ellesmere Canal,now days referred to as the Llangollen Canal,was built from Frankton Junction in 1796,and called the Llanymynech Branch.This branch was joined to the Montgomeryshire Canal,at Carreghofa,when that opened in 1797 and the last stretch of the canal,to Newtown,was opened in 1821.After a breach in 1936 the canal fell into disuse and it was finally closed in 1944.Between 1996 and 2003 various stretches of the canal have been restored and it is now possible to cruise 7 Miles  from the locks at Frankton Junction to Gronwen Wharf which is about half a mile South of our present mooring.

We left Trevor last Tuesday and made our way slowly to Ellesmere,where we stocked up with provisions in the local shops as well as the Tesco store which is handily situated alongside the canal arm.On the way there,on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights,we moored just above the locks at New Marton where we had a leisurely time doing not a lot other than watching the world go by.We were booked to go down the Frankton Locks on Friday at noon so Ellesmere,being just an hour away,was the best place to get our water tank filled and loo cassettes emptied as well as getting a few bits of shopping.After we had done everything we turned and made our way back to the junction at Frankton where we spent Thursday night moored with other boats waiting to go down onto the Montgomery the next day.

Lisa's Montgomery 002 Lisa's Montgomery 007

One of a number of tableaux that can be found alongside the network,this one on the Llangollen canal.On the right are the Frankton Locks on the Montgomery,as viewed from part way down.

On Friday lunchtime we set off down the staircase locks under the watchful eye of the Lockie,who helped us through,and then we gently cruised to a little place called Queens Head,where there used to be a wharf for loading sand from the nearby sand pit,and a grain mill.This was where we intended to stay for the weekend as Saturday was Lisa’s birthday,being one of those milestones in every girls life when they reach 21 again.We caught the bus into the nearby town of Oswestry in the morning and Lisa,skipping along,happily clutching the £10 note I gave her,set off to find the second hand shops.She emerged triumphantly from one with a nicely framed picture by someone called Constable and £5 in change.Later that evening as we celebrated her birthday in the local pub,surprisingly,it has the same name as the village,we saw the same picture,only slightly smaller,on one of the walls.Apparently it’s a painting of somewhere called Flatford Mill.

Montgomery 004 Montgomery 008

Inside the lock chamber of the Frankton Staircase Locks on the left and on the right is a view through the turnover bridge at Heath Houses,just under a mile from Queens head.Beyond the bridge is a warehouse and,in the distance,is a rail bridge.The railway here ran alongside  Rednal Basin where goods were transhipped from rail to narrowboat.

On Sunday we changed our plans and made our way here to Maesbury Marsh which used to have a wharf and a warehouse,this is now converted to a pub.Here we could fill up with water,empty the loo and get a nice hot shower in the lovely clean facilities provided by C&RT for boaters using the canal.Changing our plans is something we do quite frequently,nothing is set in stone and we just move where and when the mood takes us.We wanted to walk the 5 miles to Llanymynech to see the Heritage Area there.This Heritage Area has one of only three surviving Hoffman Limestone Kilns in the U.K.,and the only one with its chimney still in place.The justification for a canal here was the Limestone quarries and Lime Kilns that were so abundant in this area.

Montgomery 010 Montgomery 013

On the left is Gronwyn Bridge.The other side of this bridge is Gronwyn Wharf,the current limit of navigation on the Montgomery.On the right is some of the progress that has been made on restoring another stretch between Gronwyn and Llanymynech.The towpath is still open beyond the wharf so Lisa and I walked all the way to Llanymynech to see what progress is being made on restoring other stretches of the canal and also to see a little of what remains of the industry that justified the building of this canal in the first place

Montgomery 016 Montgomery 019

A bit more being prepared and Lisa looking down on the bed of the old canal that is no longer in water.

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Inside and outside of the Limekilns at Pant,a point two thirds of the way to our destination of Llanymynech.

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The end of the tramway that brought the Limestone from the Quarries and the Hoffman Limestone Kiln.Some limestone went into the Kiln and some was transhipped onto narrowboats to be taken to other Limekilns.The finished product,Quicklime,could not be moved by boat because it reacted with water.

Lisa's Montgomery 031 Lisa's Montgomery 034

The Chimney of the Hoffman Kiln viewed from the bed of the tramway that took Limestone to the top of the kiln and the Tally House where the tubs were weighed to calculate the earnings of the Quarrymen who were on Piece Work.This was a system where they were paid a sum of money for each ton of stone they produced and nothing else.A corrupt or unfriendly Tallyman could make a big difference to their pay.

Well,that’s all again for this week.We are going to move up to near Frankton Locks tomorrow where we are going to watch the world go by again until Thursday when we are booked back up the flight.Since our last blog we have done 10 Locks and 26 Miles,giving us a grand total of 226 Locks and 317 Miles since we set off in October.Take care everyone.

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