Llangollen Canal

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Llangollen canal: The final narrows before Llangollen
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Llangollen canal: The final narrows before Llangollen

What is today known as the Llangollen Canal initially formed the majority of the Ellesmere Canal, and later was part of the Shropshire Union Canal. Only with the increasing popularity of pleasure boats was it renamed the Llangollen Canal in an effort to attract more visitors; ironically, the canal was not originally intended to go to Llangollen. (See Ellesmere Canal).

The canal links Llangollen in Denbighshire, north Wales, with Nantwich in south Cheshire, via the town of Ellesmere in north-west Shropshire. It is regarded as the first major civil engineering work undertaken by civil engineer Thomas Telford (though his designs were subject to approval by the more experienced canal engineer William Jessop).

The Ellesmere Canal was intended to provide a route from coalfields and ironworks near Wrexham to the sea. From Nantwich, canal traffic took the Chester Canal (now part of the Shropshire Union Canal) to Chester where - at least, initially - sea access via the River Dee was possible, or continued via the first part of the Ellesmere Canal to be built, linking Chester with the River Mersey at a place known since the arrival of the canal there in 1796 as Ellesmere Port. It also linked to the Montgomeryshire Canal from near Llanymynech: though nowadays we consider the Montgomery Canal to start at "Frankton Junction" in Shropshire, the first part of this was the Llanymynech Branch of the Ellesmere Canal.

The canal's most notable features include the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, an aqueduct engineered by Telford to carry the canal over the valley of the River Dee east of Llangollen (the Dee also supplies the canal with water, taken from the weir at the Horseshoe Falls, about three miles west of Llangollen). Another aqueduct carries the canal over the River Ceiriog at Chirk; there are tunnels nearby at Whitehouses and Chirk, and another south-east of Ellesmere.

The canal also forms the boundary on two sides of the Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve.

See Also

no:Llangollenkanalen

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