Work to finally start on Montgomery's Schoolhouse Bridge

Published: Monday, 20 February 2023

Work is to start on reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge on the Montgomery Canal.

It is nearly six years since the launch of the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal which was targetted at the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge, the canal’s last highway blockage in Shropshire.

Raised £800,000

In the time since the launch the appeal has raised over £800,000 in donations and grants and the project team have spent many hundreds of hours on the technical design and approvals as well as the complex documentation involving the highway authority and the Canal & River Trust.

Now the project team is planning the start of work in the spring. The plan is for a formal ‘first sod’ ceremony and the search is on for someone important for the event.

The Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust is asking can we find boys who raised funds when appeal started?

Schoolhouse Lane BridgeBoys made 400 cakes

The obvious people to invite to undertake this important function are two boys, now about 14 and 12 years old, who in the summer of 2019 made 400 cakes in a sponsored bake for the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal. Unfortunately no contact details were given when the donation was made so the appeal organisers are now appealing for the boys or their mother to get in touch again.

The photograph shows the site of Schoolhouse Bridge.

Uniquely for the Montgomery Canal the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal was a joint effort by all the canal charities involved with the restoration: the Shropshire Union Canal Society whose volunteers restored most of the locks on the Welsh section and who have spent twelve years on the complex task of restoring the derelict canal channel south of Redwith; the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association, the national waterway charity which has supported the restoration from the start and sponsored the restoration of the lock flights at Frankton and Aston; and the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, the membership section of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, which runs the popular Montgomery Canal Triathlon each year.

A dream come true

Speaking for the Appeal group Michael Limbrey, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust Chairman, explained:

“The start of work on Schoolhouse Bridge will be a dream come true for the project team and for the many people from the local area and across the country who have made donations to support the bridge appeal. Over six years more than £800,000 has been given which is the most ever raised for a canal project by volunteers.

“Whilst we are delighted with the amount donated, some finishing works still have to be funded so our appeal continues.

“We know from other canal projects how a revived canal can provide recreation and well-being for the local community and visitors, as well as protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment. The value of the Montgomery Canal is recognised by the substantial investment in works under way in Powys: Schoolhouse Bridge is a vital part of restoration in Shropshire, where just two miles of canal have to be restored.

“The intention had been to build the bridge using volunteers where possible, bringing in contractors where necessary. Unfortunately the delays of Covid and its after-effects have meant that was no longer possible so Shropshire firm Beaver Bridges are coming in to build the bridge and they should be starting in the next few months.

“The start of the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge will be a real achievement for our volunteers and everyone who has supported the appeal in any way. To mark the start of the project what better than to invite some of our most enthusiastic fundraisers, two little boys—bigger nowwho raised £200 with a sponsored cake bake and sale. We were told that they baked no less than 400 cakes, but we think they may have eaten a few!

“If you are one of those boys, or know them, please get in touch so we can organise a special event when work starts. There may even be cakes!”

Local business

Richard Hinckley, Beaver Bridges Sales Director enthused:

“As a local business we are very excited to be conducting these prestigious works with the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust and to continue the excellent work to date and contribute to the future legacy of the canal.”