Shrewsbury Canal

The Shrewsbury Canal was promoted by local businessmen including William Reynolds who had already built a number of other tub-boat canals in the East Shropshire area. The other canals in the self contained East Shropshire Network included the Ketley Canal, the Wombridge Canal, the Shropshire Canal and the Donnington Wood Canal. Each of these is covered individually elsewhere in this web site.

Shrewsbury Canal History

The Shrewsbury Canal's Act of Parliament was passed and work began with Josiah Clowes employed as Chief Engineer. The route was to be 20 miles long, from Shrewsbury (in Shropshire) to the Wombridge Canal at Trench in the area now known as Telford. The Shrewsbury Canal would consist of 11 locks, 8 lift bridges, 1 tunnel, 1 inclined plane and the famous (in canal terms) aqueduct at Longdon-On-Tern.

The locks were the narrowest on any British canal at about 6 feet 7 inches wide, they had guillotine gates which were lifted using a heavy counter balance which hung above the lock chamber. Although very narrow, the locks were also very long at about 81 feet. This allowed up to 4 tub-boats to use the locks at a time though extra sets of gates are thought to have been installed within the locks, in effect making the locks shorter, thus saving water if a train of less than 4 boats needed to pass through. Usually the 20 feet long boats were horse-drawn in trains of up to twelve.

Josiah Clowes, the canal's engineer, died and was replaced by the assistant engineer from the Ellesmere Canal. This man was no stranger to the area as he was already Shropshire's County Surveyor and had built the local prison (among other things). On top of this... he just happened to be Thomas Telford! One of his first jobs was to rebuild a stone aqueduct over the River Tern at Longdon which had been swept away in a flood.

Being his first major canal project in his own right, and because he was an accomplished stone mason, Telford wanted to rebuild the aqueduct in stone. However, Shropshire was bulging with new iron companies and the canal's main promoter, William Reynolds, was the owner of a large ironworks at Ketley.

Thus, Telford built an iron aqueduct which stood just 16 feet high with a 62 yard long trough made of cast iron (cast at the Ketley works). Although it was by no means a pretty affair, the aqueduct was certainly very effective and still stands today. Moreover, its success gave Telford the know-how which allowed him to build the mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Ellesmere Canal just a few years later.

During 1795 the eastern end of the Shrewsbury Canal was connected to the Wombridge Canal. This gave the Shrewsbury Canal important access to Donnington Wood where the Shropshire Canal ran south to the River Severn at Coalport. It also created links to the coal fields at Oakengates, the ironworks at Ketley and the limestone quarries at Lilleshall. It should be noted that all these waterways were built to tub-boat dimensions and were (at this time) self contained with no access to the main UK canal network.

Building the Wombridge "connection" was no simple matter however. The level of the Wombridge Canal was considerably higher than the Shrewsbury Canal and to overcome this the Shrewsbury Canal company had to build a huge inclined plane at Trench where tub-boats would be carried on rails from one canal to the other.

Later in the year the Shrewsbury Canal Company bought the whole of the Wombridge Canal, ensuring full control of the link to the Shropshire Canal.

The whole of the Shrewsbury Canal was officially opened from its connection with the Wombridge Canal to Shrewsbury. The canal's main cargo was coal from Oakengates on the Shropshire Canal though lime from Lilleshall on the Donnington Wood Canal was also carried in large amounts. Other goods included bricks, pig iron, dairy products, fruit, furniture, glass, coffee, building materials and even gunpowder.

The Shrewsbury company thought long and hard about upgrading their tub-boat canal to a full sized narrowboat route but it was decided that conversion of the whole route would not be worth doing.

A new canal company (the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal Company) approached the Shrewsbury company for permission to connect a branch line to the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall. This would be a narrowboat canal, the first such waterway to be built in the area. It would run from the main canal network, through the town of Newport, to Wappenshall. This would give the new company access to the coal fields and iron works in Shropshire but it would also give Shrewsbury a waterway link to Birmingham - and of course to everywhere else on the inland network. Not surprisingly, the Shrewsbury company agreed to the connection.

A survey was made of the whole of the Shrewsbury Canal and in March it was reported that it would cost just £1,000 to convert the canal to narrowboat dimensions. A widening project began though work was only done where it was absolutely necessary and only between Shrewsbury and Wappenshall (where the new canal branch was to connect). Luckily for the company the tunnel and aqueducts were already just wide enough to take full sized narrowboats.

The stretch of the Shrewsbury Canal between Wappenshall and the Shropshire Canal at Donnington Wood, including the Trench incline, was not upgraded. Thus, special narrowboats, no wider than 6 feet 4 inches, were built to allow goods to be carried to transhipment areas at the bottom of Trench incline.

The Shrewsbury Canal reached its highest point in terms of profits when the Newport Branch of the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal opened at Wappenshall. This allowed traffic into (and out of) the East Shropshire Network for the first time.

A survey was carried out, once again looking at the possibility of widening the remaining tub-boat locks. This and a further survey two years later found that a new reservoir would be needed to serve the canal if the locks were widened. This was enough to cause the company to abandon the idea once and for all.

The good times were relatively short lived for the Shrewsbury Canal. Railways were the new in-thing and the "Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company" bought most of the East Shropshire canal network including the Shrewsbury Canal. London & North Western Railways took control shortly afterwards and basically they left the canal to rot away. As time went by most of the East Shropshire Network was closed down but the Shrewsbury Canal survived virtually untouched until the 1920's.

(For more details of this railway era, please see Shropshire Union Canal page).

Trench Incline Plane, the last working inclined plane in Britain, was closed.

The London Midland & Scottish Railway Company took over the running of the canal and in the same year Shrewsbury Basin was closed.

The last regular traffic, carrying sulphuric acid for Shrewsbury gas works, came to an end.

175 miles of waterways in England and Wales were officially abandoned by their owners, LMS. This included the Shrewsbury Canal and all remaining stretches of the East Shropshire Network. The canal has remained unused ever since - but not forgotten...

During the 1960's
the Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) looked into the possibility of restoring the Shrewsbury Canal. It is said that the government were very much against this idea - though it should be said that they were very much against all restoration projects at that time! The canal society eventually abandoned the idea and turned their attention on the more urgent Montgomeryshire Canal. This allowed the authorities to get away with slightly more than they may otherwise have done. For instance, construction of the A5 road right across the canal was completed with little or no opposition. It is also alleged that parts of the Newport Branch (connecting the Shrewsbury Canal to the main network) were purposely dismantled for no good reason - other than to prevent restoration. But all is not lost, virtually all of the Shrewsbury Canal route and that of the Newport Branch has survived (even if parts have been filled in and ploughed over) and it is hoped that when the Montgomeryshire Canal is completed, maybe attention will return to this interesting canal - it certainly deserves it.

Shrewsbury Canal Route

The Shrewsbury Canal ran from the east side of Shrewsbury (in Shropshire), eastwards to Trench (to the north of what is now Telford).

In the book "Lost Canals", written in 1971, Ronald Russell said that the first 1½ miles out of Shrewsbury had already been built on though a short stretch still remained near a former gas works and this (said Russell) was kept tidy by the council.

Until recently this remained the only information I had on the canal within Shrewsbury. Recently I came across an information board in Newport which said this...

"Much of the route of the canal in Shrewsbury can still be found. From Comet Bridge to Uffington the line is a public footpath. Within the town look out for the canal behind the Canal Tavern or Maltings, the Factory Bridge sign and the original terminus at the Howard Street warehouse (now the Butter Market)".

The information board also gives the impression that you can simply walk around Wappenshall Junction and onto Longdon on Tern Aqueduct though in reality it isn't quite so simple. Over the past few years I have visited as much of the canal as I could - here is what I found...

The terminus of the canal in Shrewsbury was in Howard Street which is (basically) the road at the back of the railway station. In Howard Street, as you go up the hill (south eastward) there is a yellow and red building with columns at its front door situated on the left (north) side of the street. Today this is the Butter Market (a nightclub) but it was once the canal's terminal warehouse. At the back of the building there is now a car park on the land that was once Shrewsbury Basin. It is worth noting that a little further up Howard Street is Shrewsbury Jail and across the railway is Shrewsbury Castle. The jail (like the canal) was built by Thomas Telford, as were extensions to the castle.

Running north east between the former canal terminus and the jail is a street called Beacalls Lane. This runs for about 300 yards to a junction with Newpark Road. On the north side of this junction is the Canal Tavern. To the left (west) of this pub there is a public footpath which runs from Newpark Road along the back of the pub. This, in fact, is the canal bed which can be walked northwards out of Shrewsbury. At the back of the pub there is some canal stonework (maybe part of the old towpath).

Although the footpath is quite undulating these days, I am not aware of any locks having been situated here. The path runs through a modern housing estate for about 500 yards, heading north until it meets the current day A5191 (near to the junction with Marshalls Court). Just before reaching the main road the footpath opens out with a playing field on its western side. Old maps show that this was once a canal basin.

At the very end of the footpath, where it meets the east side of the main road, there is a section of brick wall with the words "Factory Bridge" on it. This is the site of the canal bridge and the factory in question (a former Maltings) is just across the road.

This is no ordinary factory however. It was, in fact, the first ever iron framed factory in the world. Today it is in something of a sorry state though it is soon to be converted into offices.

The canal ran around the back of this large factory, parallel to the west side of the main road - heading north east. After passing what is now housing on Spring Gardens it crossed back under the road at Comet Bridge.

Today the canal bed can be walked or cycled from the former Comet Bridge, eastwards, all the way to Uffington village, a distance of about 1.5 miles. It can be accessed at the former Comet Bridge (on the A5191) or from Lesley Owen Way, south off the B5062 at Ditherington.

There is no sign of the canal for about a mile but eventually a green, watery ditch appears to the left of the path. This is the first watered section of the Shrewsbury Canal. Sadly it doesn't last long but the weedy canal bed can be seen as far as the driveway leading to Pirnley Manor. Along this section the canal runs very close to the north bank of the River Severn.

East of Pirnley Manor the path deviates slightly from the original canal line as it dips down to pass under the current A49 (Shrewsbury bypass). The path rises again on the east side of this road and soon passes the site of a small aqueduct and then arrives at Uffington.

Uffington is on a minor road south of the B5062, about 3 miles east of Shrewsbury. The minor road through the village crosses the bed of the canal at the northern entrance to the village where the road sweeps around a bend. On the west side of the road, on the bend, is a group of cottages, the north-most of which has a small plaque which reads "Wharf Cottage". The path we have been following emerges alongside this cottage and the former Uffington road bridge was situated where the road now bends. After crossing under the road in Uffington the canal turned south and eventually passed under the same road again to the south of the village.

Some 1½ miles south of Uffington is the north portal of Berwick Tunnel. This can be accessed from another minor road leading to the tiny settlement of Preston. This road heads west from the Uffington road and soon crosses the new A5. A few hundred yards further west are a pair of houses set back off the road on the left hand side. Just past the second house, and on the opposite side of the road, is a very rough path (often covered in undergrowth) which leads down (northwards) to the tunnel mouth. When you reach the bottom of the "path" the Shrewsbury Canal will be right in front of you - though you may not realise it! The tunnel is to the right, going under the road that you arrived on. The portal is bricked up above "water level" but it is still intact. There is a door fixed into the bricks though this is left open nowadays allowing you to enter - not that I'd advise this unless you know what you are doing! The tunnel is 970 yards long and runs south east beneath two minor roads, farm land and a wood.

The tunnel originally included a wooden towpath - the first ever to be installed in a tunnel of any substantial length in this country. Sadly, it was removed in 1819. Unlike most other tunnels, there is no hill above this one - in fact it is only just below ground level, leaving you wondering why it was necessary at all (rather than creating a relatively shallow cutting). There is crystal clear water in the tunnel, up to 3 feet deep as far as the eye can see (take a torch)! The tunnel is not straight and it gently curves out of sight within about 50 yards. The brickwork is in excellent condition, not a single drip. Some of the metal supports from the old wooden towpath can still be seen.

Before leaving the tunnel to continue south, you may wish to follow the towpath north a little way - back towards Shrewsbury. The canal is situated in a wood here though it is completely overgrown - and so is the towpath! This section soon comes to end where it is blocked by the new A5 road.

About a mile further south, back on the Uffington to Atcham minor road, is the village of Berwick Wharf. Look out for the first houses on the right as you head south into the village, the canal runs (or ran) directly behind these houses. To reach it, walk west for about 20 yards along the farm track that runs alongside the right hand house. This leads to an accommodation bridge over the canal.

Please note - although I saw no warning signs, and access to the accommodation bridge was not locked, this is probably private land and should really only be accessed with permission.

Having said that, I saw no one who I could ask so I just wandered in! You can see the canal from the accommodation bridge - or at least, you can see the weeds and nettles in the former canal bed - but I couldn't see any way down onto it. However, the south portal of Berwick Tunnel is only a short distance north of here and it is possible to reach it by walking along the farm field, northwards with the canal on your right.

The south end of the tunnel has been described as a "beautifully proportioned stone-faced portal" which, for many years, was left open but has now also been bricked up. This time the iron door in the brickwork has bars in it making it possible to gaze within - the tunnel is 10 feet wide and brick lined. It is not straight - so there would be no sign of light from the portal at the far end even if it was not bricked up.

Back at the houses marking the start of the village of Berwick Wharf there is a lay-by just yards further south on the left (east) side of the Uffington to Atcham road. This, in fact, is the site of a former canal bridge. The canal has been culverted under the road but on the east side it can clearly be seen, full of water for about 50 yards and looking very pretty as it runs through a back garden. This "private restoration" is somewhat artificial however, and it looks a little twee in this setting - but at least the former canal is being put to good use. This stretch of the canal is strictly private so do not attempt to access it here - even if there is nobody to ask!

Beyond the "restored" section the canal falls back into a state of weeds and nettles as it runs behind more houses on the Uffington to Atcham road (within the village of Berwick Wharf). The canal can be accessed by scrambling through a small wood on the roadside just before the cluster of National Trust owned cottages near the junction with the road to Upton Magna. There is water in the canal here but if you didn't know it was a canal you'd probably think it was a stagnant pond!

Between the National Trust owned cottages there is an opening (rough track) which leads to a black & white Tudor-style cottage which is the former wharf house at Berwick Wharf. The old wharf lies on private land though the lady who lives in the house was kind enough to show me around her garden! Her back fence uses the edge of the wharf as a foundation and the canal (in water) is directly behind her fence. There are mooring rings in the stonework along the garden-side of the fence.

The wharf originally belonged to the well-to-do Berwick family who lived in the Attingham estate just south of the wharf. Attingham Park and Hall is now a National Trust property and is open to the public. The estate played a major part in the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, in connection with the making of cast iron and the first foundries at Coalbrookdale.

As the canal passes through Berwick Wharf it curves around from south to east. Just past the wharf it passes under the minor road to Upton Magna and then heads north east towards Withington, 3 miles away. It's course can be seen on the south side of the road as it leaves Berwick Wharf.

The new A5 crosses the route once again near Upton Magna. Although the nearby railway and minor road bridges still stand, the canal line is severed by the main road. This happened fairly recently and was very unfortunate, the original plans for the road had included a bridge - or at least enough height to allow one to be built at a later stage. The canal society did not object to this but between the inquiry and the start of construction the plans were changed and the road was built across the canal on the level.

The cut is completely dry from Upton Magna to Withington. In Withington the canal has been culverted under the village road and this time there are only a few traces of the wharf.

From Withington the canal headed north east to Rodington but it has now gone without trace, lost beneath ploughed farmland. On the road from Withington to Rodington, just before the road drops downhill into Rodington, there is a canal bridge by the side of the road, standing in a farm field! Immediately north of this bridge was Rodington Wharf. You can see the wharf from the bridge, it's now a nicely kept lawn at the back of houses which were once wharf buildings.

Immediately north of the wharf the canal used to cross the River Roden on an aqueduct. In 1971 Ronald Russell described the aqueduct as a 3-arched structure near to the village road but sadly it was demolished during the 1970's. Just past the river, on the right as the road climbs up out of the village (heading north east towards longdon) the canal line comes back into view. It was on an embankment here, having just left the aqueduct. Ronald Russell described a fine wooden lift bridge carrying a farm track. Sadly this was also removed many years ago.

The canal continues north east heading towards Longdon on Tern. Near the point where the minor road from Rodington meets the B5063 was Longdon Wharf. This is about 40 yards south of the Tayleur Arms on the east side of the road (near the current day telephone box)! It was here that the canal passed under the road beneath a bridge with a rather severe "hump".

There is an old Shropshire Union Company warehouse which can be seen, set back off the road, behind a bungalow. It has been said that it looks distinctly more like a railway building rather than a canal building.

I highly recommend a visit to the Tayleur Arms in Longdon, it's a nice friendly pub which sells good food. Although it looks very modern the front part of it is actually very old, dating back to the days before pubs had bars as we know them today. It originally had two rooms situated just inside the current front entrance and beer would be brought through to customers in jugs. (And a pint really was a pint... apparently)! In the pub I found some info about the canal and about the section that I will describe next. However, this info didn't help me much as the text was taken from this very web page (hence my high praise of the pub)! It reads something like this...

Quarter of a mile north east of Longdon Wharf the canal turned to the south east and onto Thomas Telford's famous iron aqueduct which still stands today. This was not quite the first ever cast iron trough aqueduct, another at Derby beat it by only a month or two, but it is certainly the oldest still in existence - albeit completely dry. The trough, which crosses the small River Tern, was used as a farm track for a number of years in the late 20th century but it is now blocked at the northern end. In fact, the aqueduct lies on private farm land though I am told that the land owner does not mind the occasional canal fanatic trespasser - but don't say I sent you!

Reaching the aqueduct is very easy if you don't mind soggy farm fields - I suggest a summertime visit! Between the Tayleur Arms and the next house north along the B5063 there is a farm gate which is not locked. Follow the farm field (south east) (keeping to the edge) and you will eventually (after 400 yards or so) arrive at the aqueduct. You might have to scramble over some large farm sacks and then untie the gate which stands at the north end but once you have done this, you will find yourself in the dry trough where boats once floated. You can also look at the aqueduct from down below on the river bank.

South east of Longdon the Shrewsbury Canal continued on an embankment though most of this has been flattened and another aqueduct across a small stream has long since been removed. At Long Lane the current day A442 crosses the canal - it ran behind the pub in the village!

In fact, there is still a canal bridge at Long Lane but it is not on the current A442. The original road crossed the canal just to the east of the current road. This can still be driven along and the canal bridge stands alongside "Wharf Cottage". The wharf, however, has long since vanished - replaced by a farm field.

South east of Long Lane the canal crosses Eyton Moor. On my road map the moor is bare but two locks (in the middle of nowhere) are clearly marked. These were the locks which were widened to accommodate narrowboats from the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal (later known as the Shropshire Union Canal). Shrewsbury Canal locks were not like those you will see elsewhere on the UK canal system. They had guillotine gates at the lower end, surrounded by tall wooden scaffolding which was part of a pulley and counter balance system used for lifting and lowering the gates.

The first of the locks (Eyton Lower Lock) is isolated but was reasonably complete until its guillotine superstructure collapsed in the 1980's. The second lock can be reached via the dead-end lane travelling north east to the brilliantly named village of Eyton Upon The Weald Moors. At the very end of this lane - where it reaches a farm gate - there is a former lock cottage on the left-hand side. There used to be a lift bridge here too though the lane has now been widened for farm access. The canal is culverted under the lane and beneath the now extended garden of the lock cottage but looking right (east) Eyton Upper Lock can clearly be seen. The chamber has survived but has been converted into a weir as part of a flood relief channel. But it is a lovely scene; water cascading down the lock and a cottage with pretty garden alongside.

One mile south of here is the tiny settlement of Wappenshall. It was here in 1835 that Thomas Telford (then the engineer on the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal) connected the Newport Branch of his new canal to his 40 year old Shrewsbury Canal. A minor road off Queensway, the A442 Telford ring road, sign-posted to Preston and Wappenshall, heads north east to the attractive group of buildings which make up Wappenshall. But keep your eyes open or you'll go straight past... I did!

There is no canal bridge on the road today because the road was realigned in the 1960's, so you must look out for a group of buildings which are all situated on the north side of the road. Close inspection will reveal that these are called Wharf House, Junction House and Bridge House.

Although the minor road through the settlement is very quiet nowadays, in the early 1800's it was said to be the busiest in all of Shropshire. To find any traces of the canal junction however, you must look north west, behind the buildings. The house called Wharf House is clearly not original and, in fact, gets its name because it now stands on what was once the canal wharf while its lawn is situated where the canal once ran. Hidden behind a large hedge that runs along the front of the house is the original road bridge over the Shrewsbury Canal. Although this is situated inside the gates of the house, I took the liberty of walking across it - just to say I had! It doesn't actually go anywhere, the original road is blocked on the far side. It seems quite amazing - if not a little bizarre - that the bridge is still here.

To the right of Wharf House is the entrance to a former business (possibly a haulage firm or similar). As there are currently no gates and no warning signs of any sort, I decided to wander in. I was glad I did because in here is the former Wappenshall Junction.

As you enter the "premises" you are facing (more or less) north. The Shrewsbury Canal ran (more or less) north to south beyond the garden wall to your left. Of course, in working days there was no wall. Ahead of you are two old brick buildings but the one of most interest is the one furthest north. This was a warehouse that used to straddled an arm of the canal. Today it is surrounded by concrete road and dry land but the huge arches at the east and west ends, where boats once entered, can still be seen and there is water in the loading area within the building.

To look inside you need to walk around the east side of the buildings and then you can enter via a doorway on the north side. Trapdoors can still be seen in the ceiling where goods were once dropped and lifted directly between boats and the upper floors of the warehouse. If you walk around to the west side, an overgrown road climbs up to a former loading area which is level with the first floor. This also has a large brick arch covering it where goods could be transferred to and from an even higher level.

A few years ago this listed building was planned for restoration by the local council. It was to become an arts centre but sadly there was not enough money available and the scheme was shelved. Recently plans have been put forward to convert it into apartments - the water filled loading bay will become a swimming pool. Please tell me it's an April Fool's joke?!!!

From the road running under the arch on the west side, continue north onto the deck of a rather impressive skew bridge which crossed the Newport Branch as it left the junction, heading north east. In a 1996 canal article this was described as "a superb work of canal engineering", like the warehouse, it is a listed structure. Prior to 1996 repairs had been made to the bridge with money received from European funds though it was still in need of more work to ensure its future. It is a surprisingly large bridge, wide enough to take vehicles although, to my knowledge, there is no road on it's far side. It was simply used as a "roving" bridge - taking the towpath from one side of Wappenshall Junction to the other. It is possible to take a look underneath the bridge by walking right around the east side of the warehouse. Currently the canal beneath the bridge is filled in and the junction itself is thick with undergrowth.

The junction was a very busy place in its heyday due to it being a major transhipment point. Although tub-boats could, and sometimes did, venture out into the main canal network - and specially built narrowboats could come in - it was more common for goods to be transhipped between tub-boats and narrowboats or onto road vehicles.

To the east of the former junction (next door to the land on which the old warehouse stands) is Junction House which looks original to me although it would have been a good few yards from the junction on the Newport Branch. Further east is a former boatman's "hostel". The Newport Branch left Wappenshall Junction heading north east towards the main line of the Shropshire Union Canal (some 12 miles away) though sadly, virtually all of this route is currently dry.

The Shrewsbury Canal headed south east from the junction, climbing upwards towards Trench. The minor road through Wappenshall crosses the route of the canal but, as mentioned above, it was realigned some years ago, leaving the canal culverted beneath it.

On my recent visit (2002) to Wappenshall I could not see any access to the canal south of the road although I could make out a slight ditch running south across the fields and could definitely here rushing water. Just in case you fancy climbing the fence which runs along the road I have included the following description though I stress I could not access this section in 2002...

Some of this section of canal is now used as a storm drain and some of the locks have been converted into weirs. Exploration may be best in winter when there is less undergrowth - though of course the towpath (if it still exists) may have other problems (such as thick mud) at that time of year. About 100 yards to the south of Wappenshall bridge was Wappenshall Lock though this was demolished around the same time as the road improvements. Its site can be located close to a weir.

About 400 yards further on was Britton Lock though this is now mostly filled in. Currently it is buried in a nettle bed and the gate superstructure is almost impossible to see because trees have grown alongside. Recently it was said to be "leaning rather drunkenly to one side"!

Kinley Bridge used to cross the canal about 100 yards above Britton Lock but it has long since gone. Some 250 yards further south east another small bridge (Wheat Leasowes) has been filled in. This stood at the tail of Wheat Leasowes Lock (pronounced "Less-owes") but sadly the lock has also been filled in, lost when the minor road beside it was widened. There is, however, a former lock cottage alongside - or so I'm told. I drove up and down this minor road (running north of the A422) but could not detect the line of the canal. I believe I found the lock cottage at a point where the road appears to have been realigned but there was no sign of canal or ditch in the fields to the north.

There is said to be better news just over 100 yards further south where the chamber of Shucks Lock has survived - though I have no idea how to reach it. But the good news is said to continue a further 150 yards or so south where both Peaty Lock and its accompanying bridge are also still intact despite being completely obscured by undergrowth. The fairly new A442 crosses the canal just above the lock. To the south of this main road a new footpath runs up to the canal and then runs along the west bank of the former waterway. The canal at this point is full of weeds but it has not been filled in.

There are two more locks in this section (near Leegomery), these are sometimes known as Scissors Locks. As you approach the first via the canalside path you can see it's large wooden scaffold towering above the chamber. This is Hadley Park Lock and it's adjacent bridge carries the once private road leading to Hadley Park which is now a public cyclepath and also the Silkin Way Walk. You can stand on the bridge directly in front of the lock, giving you a close look at the old pulley system and the chamber which appears to be surviving against the odds. I believe this was the last lock to retain its original counter balance gear, for many years the gear was left hanging, swaying about above the lock.

From Hadley Park Lock you can look south along the line of the canal. A few hundred yards away you can see the wooded frame of "Turnip Lock". The towpath on this stretch was cleared some 20 years ago but was not maintained and is now in desperate need of help once again. It was far too overgrown for me to scramble through!

New housing has now been built close to the canal here (on the western side) and one local resident reckons there is talk of "preserving the locks and reopening the canal". I expect he means clearing and partly restoring the section beside these two locks - adjacent to the rather posh new housing estate. I certainly hope he is right.

The final intact lock was actually the penultimate lock on the canal. This is Baker's (or Castle) Lock which is situated within the very secure grounds of GKN Sankey situated on Trench Road at Hadley Castle. The canal passed through the works, twisting east and then south east before being crossed by a railway and the old A518. I believe the railway line has been removed in recent years but the old A518 (Trench Road) is still here. While much of the Telford area has changed in recent years, this road can be seen on some very old maps.

Just to the south east of Trench Road the Shrewsbury Canal entered Trench Lock - the top lock on the canal. In 1971 Ronald Russell reported that only the upper gate of the lock was still in place but sadly not even that has survived because the large double roundabout junction where the new A518 and the A442 meet (known as Trench Lock Interchange) has obliterated the lock and the canal. For the record, I believe Trench Lock stood beneath the southern roundabout close to where Trench Road crosses the current A442. A map dated 1880 shows the canal at Trench Lock surrounded by heavy industry, including many railways and Trench Iron Works which was situated on the land immediately south west of the canal.

On the east side of the modern A442 is Trench Pool, a reservoir which once fed water into the canal. The towpath ran right along the west side of the reservoir, south eastwards, alongside what is now Capewell Road (which itself runs right alongside the east side of the new A442). On Capewell Road is a pub, once called the Shropshire Arms but now called the Blue Pig, and this stands at the base of a grassy slope. This is the site of Trench Inclined Plane which used to carry tub boats on rails up to the Wombridge Canal which ran along the top of the hill.

The incline climbed upwards parallel with Capewell Road. Sadly there is nothing of the incline to be seen today - apart from the hill it once climbed. In 1971 Ronald Russell described the course of the incline as rough and very steep though it is a lot more tidy today. The incline stretched 223 yards with a rise of 75 feet. Teagues Bridge Primary School and a Community Centre stand alongside the incline, the top of which has now been landscaped and includes a children's play park but nothing remains of the canal or the incline.

In 1971, when Ronald Russell wrote about the incline, there were still two portions of curved brick walling to be seen at the top. This was all that was left of the basin where the Shrewsbury Canal made a junction with the Wombridge Canal but even this has gone now. The Wombridge line can still be seen for just a few yards - but note when I say "line" I'm talking about landscaped grass here! The incline was actually midway along the Wombridge route, to the south the line of this canal can be followed around the same arc that now runs around the edge of the hill behind the current housing estate. In the other direction (north east) the likes of Juniper Drive now cross it's path. Here you can read more about the Wombridge Canal.

(Many thanks to Tony Clayton, Martin Ludgate, Dennis Buttery & Roy Williams for there help and info concerning the Shrewsbury Canal).

Visit the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust website.

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