Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Different Agendas

We all spent a windy yesterday tied up below New Marton Locks. There were a fair few boats out braving the elements, though. Mostly hirers out of Ellesmere or Trevor.

Today we had a chat and we’ve all got different priorities. Charles and Ann wanted to get to Ellesmere to pick up some mail, so they got off first.

Moore2Life gets under way….SAM_0001 M2L Leaving

With no urgency we decided to toddle along for a bit and moor at Frankton Junction, leaving George and Carol behind. George was still making repairs to Rock’n’Roll’s damaged rear canopy.

We follow a little later, leaving Rock’n’Roll behind.

Leaving New MartonSAM_0002 RnR staying
There’s a gap behind R’n’R now as well, Jan and Dai had also set off this morning, heading for Frankton.

Last night we had six boats moored along here, a hire boat had moored at either end of our four. We’ve left George and Carol in splendid isolation now.

The canal seemed unusually low today, I’ve no idea why.

Dry overflow weir near Bridge 9WSAM_0008 Low water
You’d have thought that low water levels would be the least of this canal’s problems, with all that water coming down from the Dee.

Lower Ridge Farm seems to specialise in black lambs….SAM_0006 Black Lamb


By 13:00 we were tied up at Frankton Junction. NB Jandai is moored here too, as expected.

Frankton Junction mooringsSAM_0011 Frankton Moorings

After lunch Meg and I took a walk down the locks onto the Montgomery Canal.

Looking down from the top lockSAM_0013 Frankton Locks
The top two are a staircase, followed by two individual chambers. Access to the Montgomery is restricted as a lot of the navigable length is a SSSI, so the locks are chained up and have to be pre-booked.

Looking back from Lock 4SAM_0016 Frankton Locks

The Montgomery was proposed to take advantage of the Ellesmere Canal, joining it at Carreghofa on the Llanymynech Branch.
The Ellesmere’s original route was from Chester to Trevor, then to Frankton, turning right at the junction, down the locks then heading off towards Shrewsbury. The Llanymynech Branch left the main line just below the locks.
The Chester to Trevor bit was never built, the difficulty of the terrain would have made it uneconomical. And it never actually got as far as Shrewsbury either, terminating at Weston Lullingfields, 8½ miles short. 

The Montgomery was seen as a link from Carreghofa to Newtown, to carry limestone and agricultural produce up to the main line. The project was under-capitalised, and it was not competed until 1821, having taken 30 years to build. It was never really profitable and effectively closed following a major breach in 1936.

Below the locks, the main line comes in from the locks on  the left and heads away to Weston dead ahead, while the Llanymynech Branch heads off under the bridge from where the photo was taken.

Llanymynech Branch JunctionSAM_0020 Weston Arm Junction

This branch has now become known as part of the Montgomery Canal, and the original main line of the Ellesmere Canal is known as the Weston Arm. This now ends at the building in the distance.

End of the Weston Arm, the original main line.SAM_0021 Weston Arm
There are good moorings and sanitary facilities here. The line of the navigation from here is now a linear nature reserve, mostly dry.

Up to a couple of days ago the moorings here were completely iced up. Not a sign, now, after the mild weather we’ve had.

Back up onto what we now know as the Llangollen Canal, looking east from Bridge 1W, the main line comes from Trevor (behind) and makes a right turn down the Frankton Locks. Straight ahead is the route to Ellesmere, Whitchurch and finally the junction with the Shropshire Union Main Line at Hurleston. This was intended only as an arm to Whitchurch, but was extended to the (then) Chester Canal when the Chester to Trevor section of the Ellesmere was deemed impractical. 

Frankton Junction from Bridge 1WSAM_0027 Frankton

SAM_0026 Frankton Locks

The Montgomery, as we know it, was reopened to navigation in 1987. It’s currently viable to Gronwyn Bridge, 6½ miles from Frankton. There are several disconnected sections along it’s 32 miles, the challenge now is to join them up!

Locks 0, miles 3

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