Physical restoration of the canal is now in progress in three locations, all of which are within a couple of miles of the current head of navigation. Alas, as with every other facet of life, Covid-19 had a major impact on the restoration during 2020.
On the HLF-funded restoration of the Pryces Bridge to Crickheath section, Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) volunteers reached an important milestone. Activities on site were suspended during the initial lockdown from March, but resumed in late July under revised working arrangements made possible by the fact that SUCS is a principal contractor to CRT for the project and so were regarded as ‘working’.
The channel had four large areas of subsidence. In these areas the banks are constructed to a height which accounted for future subsidence and then weighed down with water-filled tanks to induce that movement. It was clear right from the restart that, to keep to the HLF programme, two of the four sections of bank that required surcharging had to be finished by the end of the year so as to permit sufficient time for settlement to take place. Also, the channel bed had to be treated and drained to permit machines to run over it – a major task in itself. Extra work parties ensured that both tasks were completed on time.
The second area of work by SUCS was in Crickheath South – the section of channel between the houses in the settlement of Crickheath. Work there was restricted to vegetation clearance and exploratory work on some of the structures.
The much-anticipated work at Schoolhouse Bridge also commenced during the 2020. In September a diversion road was installed around the site of the bridge. This was followed by the diversion of a water main in the road away from the bridge location.
There are more detailed accounts of SUCS activities on its website. Details of the Schoolhouse Bridge work are at restorethemontgomerycanal.uk.