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Canal restoration by muddy marvels - with video

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | News | Published:

A group of dedicated volunteers spent a wet and muddy weekend helping to bring an historic waterway back to life.

Volunteers, left to right, Joan Emmanuel, Richard Maund, Fred Barrett and Stephen Palmer, help bring the historic waterway back to life

Members of the Shropshire Union Canal Society are restoring a section of the Montgomery Canal near Oswestry, with monthly working parties in every weather.

March saw snow and sub-zero temperatures with this weekend April downpours and endless mud hampered the work.

Despite the conditions more than two dozen men and women from across the UK worked tirelessly to install a French drain and construct a clay dam, west of the a newly restored section.

Canal restoration

Fred Barrett, one of the volunteers, said: "The mud really was tough but everyone got stuck in and we made good progress."

As well as the engineers work the working party re-sited the great crested newt fences along the newly restored section to allow the tow path to be resurfaced to the correct width. The newt fencing ensures none of the amphibians - protected species - can make their way into the canal.

A local man who gives up his time to join the working parties is Richard Maund, 50, who lives in nearby Maesbury Marsh.

"I really want to see this canal open again and being used for what it should be used for," he said.

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"It is also a great social group. Those who don't live nearby stay in local pubs and we get together and enjoy the evenings as well as working together during the day."

Many travel from much further afield.

Moored

Graham Harris, 50, travels each month from south London.

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"We used to holiday here when I was a child, in a B&B at Maesbury. We could see the canal across the fields. Then, 35 years later we had a family reunion, visited the farm where we stayed and I saw boats on what had basically been a ditch as I remembered it.

"I did some investigation and found that the Shropshire Union Canal Society held working parties. Now I come every month."

Volunteering for more than quarter of a century have been Ruth and John Blundred from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

"We moored our canal boat at Whixall and heard about the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. John volunteered for a few times and then our daughter, Susan and then son Michael joined the working parties for their Duke of Edinburgh silver and gold awards and we ended up volunteering as a family."

Mr Barrett said the society would welcome more volunteers of all ages who could spend one day a month or a weekend a month restoring the canal.

Anyone interested can contact him on 01902 398441.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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