Great Britain » Llangollen Canal | England & Wales
A gorgeous canal at the border to Wales
Llangollen Canal | England & Wales: Characteristics & Overview
Rating of waterway
|Length of waterway:||43 km|
|Number of locks:||29|
|Lock dimensions:||21.30 x 2.00|
|Max. depth:||0.61||Max. headroom:||2.08|
|Degree of difficulty:||For beginners (few locks)|
|Character of waterway:||with urban surroundings, for sporty people, Waterway in reclusion|
|Profile of waterway:||Used by tourists only|
Waterway has access to:Shropshire Union Canal & Middlewich Branch
As far as its popularity is concerned, it is to English people like Canal du Midi to the French. Apart from the popularity, the two canals have nothing much in common. Llangollen canal is with its viaducts and tight valley passages almost something like a mountain canal.
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Llangollen - The Dee Valley1795 was an interesting year. The French Revolution was still raging; Beethoven made his debut as a pianist, the British captured Capetown and two of the greatest engineers who ever lived embarked on bridging a 1,007ft gap across the Dee Valley!
Canals were the arteries of the Industrial Revolution throughout England and Wales and the race was on to connect the then Ellesmere Canal to the new pumping station on the River Dee at Llangollen, as well as Ellesmere Port itself on the Mersey Estuary.
Luckily, the engineering team of Thomas Telford and William Jessop were the most experienced canal and bridge builders of their time. Telford quickly put forward the idea of building a cast iron trough, similar in design to an earlier bridge of his in Longdon-on-Tern near Shrewsbury, placed on hollow stone pillars the width of the valley.
Despite much scepticism, Telford had his way. He built 19 supporting pillars, some up to 116ft (35m) high connected by 53ft wide iron arches. The mortar used in their construction was a mix of lime, water and ox blood. Nobody has yet worked out how many oxen this would have taken!!
The cast iron troughs were cast locally and dovetailed into each other. They were caulked by a mixture of pure Welsh linen and boiled sugar before being sealed over by lead.
Once completed the trough was flooded and left for six months to check for leaks - needless to say the seals haven't broken in over 200 years!
The whole thing was topped off with a towpath and safety rail which is still very much in use to this day, although a good head for heights might be required as the final structure is 126ft high.
The aqueduct was officially opened a month after the Battle of Trafalgar on the 26th November 1805 and cost the then considerable sum of £47,000. Ironically, this resulted in the project running out of money and the canal never reaching Ellesmere Port.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal are now a World Heritage
No. 4 Four Countiey & the Welsh Canals | Nicholson
Collins / Editor: Nicholson / Language: English
Navigational notes include: Planning a cruise, using a lock and bridges, winding holes, boatyards and local services. Covers the Claden, Llangollen, Montgomery, Shropshire Union, Trent and Mersey, Staffs & Worcester and Monmouthshire & Brecon canals and the Weaver Navigation Also: The history of each canal, places of interest, pubs and restaurants, opportunities for walking and cycling. Spiralbounding, size: A5
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