Grindley Brook Village
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History
Copies of documents related to the canal

Started in 1793 and completed in 1805 the Ellesmere Canal now known as the Llangollen Canal has a fascinating historyIn the 1790's two separate
schemes were put forward to link the great rivers Dee near Chester and the Severn at Shrewsbury. The one to receive an act of parliament in 1793 was a line from Ellesmere Port in the north through Wrexham, Trevor, Chirk and Ellesmere then to Shrewsbury linking not only the Dee and the Severn but the River Mersey as well.
The canal to Whitchurch was just to be one of a number of branch lines and was to end at Grindley Brook. The main traffic was to be slate, coal and limestone for fertiliser.
The canal was started with the line across the Wirral and was built to broad gauge to accommodate the barges of the rivers Mersey and Dee and the Bridgewater canal. This line was paying its way soon after opening in 1795.
Cutting had also started in the middle of the line at Chirk and in 1796 a new act of parliament authorised a change of the line from Chester to Pontcysllte but only 2 miles near Wrexham were ever built because new collieries near Chester offered cheaper coal than the canal could ever supply The owners now looked for a cheaper route to Chester and decided to extend the Whitchurch branch to Nantwich and join on to the Shropshire canal.This part of the work was completed by 1805.
The owners now had a canal very different from the one first proposed. Though the original main line had now been abandoned the company pressed on with its massive aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysllte there being sufficient business in carrying coal from Ruabon to justify the cost.
It is interesting to speculate as to whether the canal we cruise today would have survived had the aqueducts not been built. In the 1950's Tom Rolt forced his narrow boat Cressy up the near derelict canal and drew attention to its shameful state. That and his help in starting the IWA ensured that we still have the canal that we now call the Llangollen. But what if the Pontcysllte aqueduct had not been built, Telford could have brought his feeder from the Dee down the south side of the Dee valley as he no longer intended to build a navigation to Chester. Without the Pontcysllte aqueduct would Tom Rolt have had the same incentive?
Bollard at Locks
The old wooden rope worn bollard from the middle chamber (Now sadly removed)
Locks 1967
This view shows the locks in about 1967 when the brick finish was still in place
Locks Close up
A closer view of the brick finish
which prevented horses and men
from slipping
Lock Paddle
Photographed in about 1978 this view of the top of the staircase lock shows the old paddle gear still in place.
Rope marks from the wet tow-ropes of horse drawn boats were visible near the top of the paddle.