Rebuilding Montgomery Canal Schoolhouse Bridge starts

Published: Monday, 17 April 2023

AFTER setbacks and delays work is starting on the reconstruction of Schoolhouse Bridge, the last highway obstruction on the Montgomery Canal in Shropshire.

The bridge, on a country lane south of Oswestry, was blocked many years ago after the canal was abandoned and is the main obstruction on the derelict section to the Welsh border at Llanymynech. To tackle the bridge the local waterway charities came together to organise its reconstruction.

Schoolhouse Lane BridgeRaised over £1 million

As well as running a series of local and national fund-raising appeals which have raised over £1 million, experienced volunteers prepared the bridge design, obtained all the technical approvals, and negotiated with the Canal & River Trust, Shropshire Council and adjoining landowners for the formal agreements needed for the work. The image shows Schoolhouse Bridge as it is today.

Contractors Beaver Bridges of Shrewsbury have been appointed to rebuild the bridge and are starting work on a project which will run through to late summer. They have closed the road and are fencing the site and preparing their base for welfare facilities and the storage of materials and equipment.

The start of the bridge works will be marked at 11am on Monday 24th April 2023 by the cutting of the first sod by Cllr Vince Hunt, Chairman of Shropshire Council accompanied by Cllr Joyce Barrow. The boundary of their two divisions runs down the middle of Schoolhouse Bridge.


Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Restore the Montgomery Canal! group which has promoted the project, explained:

“We are delighted that our contractors are starting to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge almost six years to the day after we launched our appeal for the project. There have been complications on the way—a world-wide pandemic was one!so the start is later than we had hoped. Fortunately our neighbours have been very understanding and we are very grateful to them.

“Rebuilding the bridge is a £1 million project, the biggest volunteer-led project of the restoration so far. We owe a huge thank-you to supporters in the area and across Great Britain who have supported the project with monthly donations and individual gifts, grants and legacies. The appeal has also received generous donations from the Inland Waterways Association, the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal Society as members of the Restore the Montgomery Canal! group. We have also been assisted by a grant from Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund, supplies from TG Builders Merchants, Oswestry, and support from Shropshire Council and the Canal & River Trust who have helped our team get the project to its start and by Beaver Bridges who will be carrying out the work for us.

“The bridge reconstruction and the opening in June of the section to Crickheath restored by volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society will together mark a significant step for the restoration as too will the major works being undertaken in Powys with Levelling-Up funding.

“The start of this project dovetails with other key restoration events taking place on the canal, such as the Levelling Up Grant funded works in Powys, where the first section of dredging has been completed, and in Shropshire the formal re-opening of the canal to Crickheath Wharf (about half a mile from Schoolhouse Bridge) on 2nd June. This is the culmination of many years of work by volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society assisted by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and others, including canal societies.

“The revived Montgomery Canal will safeguard the canal’s valuable built and natural heritage, provide an amenity for recreation and well-being for residents and visitors and bring economic opportunities as the canal opens up for visitors. We look forward to the day when we can realise the ambitions of local authorities, communities and businesses as boats from across the country visit the borders of Shropshire and Powys.”

Richard Hinckley, Beaver Bridges Sales Director told that as a local business they 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.