A RESTORATION project that will see new life flow into a 200-year-old canal has been awarded £160,000.
The development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will go towards reopening the next two kilometre section of the Montgomery Canal between Gronwen and Crickheath, near Llanymynech.
Supporters of the project, under the umbrella group the Montgomery Canal Partnership, said the funding was a “major benefit” to securing the full £3.7 million grant, which will be used to return the canal to full use for the first time in 80 years.
Peter Richards, treasurer of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, who had previously feared the end of the project if the bid was unsuccessful, said: “It is all very possible now.
“I feel very relieved because without it the project would not be progressing.”
He also said that the funding would be used to employ a temporary project manager and a community development officer as well as completing the extension of the nature reserve at Aston Locks, which Mr Richards said was “as big a project” as reopening the canal.
It will also mean reinstatement of a ‘winding hole’ for boats to turn at Crickheath, towpath improvements from Welshpool to Llanymynech, and better links between communities in Shropshire.
Michael Limbrey, branch president of the Shrewsbury District and North Wales Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, commented: “The lottery project includes work on the canal’s special build and natural heritage including conservation of some of the structures which make the Montgomery Canal a special survivor from the days of the Industrial Revolution, with extra nature reserve areas and other works to protect its special ecological interest.”
Reyahn King, head of HLF West Midlands, added: “This is a great first step and we are looking forward to working with the Trust on the development of proposals in the coming months.”
The second round for submission of the £3.7m grant will take place in December 2014.