Shropshire experienced its rainiest October in 120 years - but that couldn't hold back progress on a major canal restoration programme.

Despite the heavy downpours, efforts by the community to keep areas of the channel dry for scheduled work were largely successful.

Usually, water enters the channel around December or January, though rainfall this year saw these areas fill much earlier.


Project manager for the Montgomery Canal restoration party, Tom Fulda, said: “Shropshire has supposedly had the wettest October for 120 years. But unlike Canute, we just about succeeded in holding back the water during this month’s work party.

“Parts of the channel typically starts filling with water in December or January. Not so this year.

“But thanks to pumping during the week before and throughout the work party, first with one, then two and eventually three pumps, we managed to keep this area dry enough for activities to continue. ‘Dry’ would be a misnomer – though more of that later.”

Mr Fulda appreciates the hard working volunteers who battled the elements, deploying up to three pumps simultaneously to keep the surrounding terrain sufficiently dry for activities to continue.

The high rainfall aided in the undertaking of water tests last month.

The testing revealed successful repairs to the channel bank carried out in August; no leakages were detected past the embankment.

These results will be reviewed, identifying areas where repairs are necessary with restoration works set to begin early next year.

Post testing saw the decommissioning of water tests and the removal of the clay dams utilised during testing to restore the channel for machine operation.

Labourers pressed ahead to clear the area and prepare the terrain for the placement of coping stones, which fortify the newly repaired wall.

Hand-tooled replacements have been sourced for original coping stones eroded or damaged over time, with the cost covered by a generous grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology.

A majority of the project was completed, however, the remaining 70-metre stretch has been deferred to next year, when water levels, weather and working conditions should be more conducive.

Preparing for several tasks lined up for the winter, workers have begun clearing dead saplings and small trees along the hedge, deposited in the bonfire area for later burning.