A 1.43km length of the Ellesmere Canal and associated features at Chirk Bank

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021433

Date first listed: 30-Sep-2008

Map

Ordnance survey map of A 1.43km length of the Ellesmere Canal and associated features at Chirk Bank
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Weston Rhyn

District: Wrecsam - Wrexham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Chirk Community

National Grid Reference: SJ 29273 37100

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Canals played a crucial role in the Industrial Revolution. They were essential for transporting both the raw materials and finished products. Without them the character and probably the significance of industrial development in Britain would have been very different. The development of the canal network was carried out in a piecemeal manner over time but it is universally recognised that the highly engineered lengths of the Ellesmere Canal represent the apogee for canal building in Britain. Taken together with the scheduled Welsh length of this canal, the 1.43km length of the Ellesmere Canal and associated features at Chirk Bank represent an exceptional example of a pioneering, heavily engineered cutting and embankment associated with an impressive aqueduct which when built was the tallest in the world.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

This monument includes a 1.43km length of the Ellesmere Canal leading through Chirk Bank from the Welsh border at Chirk Aqueduct to Gledrid Bridge. In addition to the highly-engineered canal itself, a number of associated features are included within the monument and amongst these are a quarry from which stone was extracted to build Chirk Aqueduct, the tow path, most of the cutting, a substantial proportion of the embankment, the wharfs, the English length of Chirk Aqueduct and a footbridge abutment. The monument forms part of the Ellesmere Canal scheme that was promoted by Act of Parliament in 1793. Originally, the intention was to provide a north to south link from the River Dee at Chester to the River Severn at Shrewsbury. However, instead, a west to east canal leading from Llangollen to the Chester Canal at Hurleston Junction was built. The Ellesmere Canal merged with the Chester Canal in 1813. A merger with the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal in 1845 was followed in 1846 by the formation of the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company. By 1939 traffic on the line from Hurleston to Llangollen had ceased, and was closed to navigation by Act of Parliament in 1944. The canal however remained as a water feeder for the main line of the Shropshire Union Canal and with increasing amenity demands was reopened and is now known as the Llangollen Canal. The western part of the canal cut through a series of steep sided hills and valleys resulting in the need for heavily engineered solutions exemplified by the Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts, a number of tunnels and cuttings carved along the contours of the landscape. The Principal Engineer for the canal was William Jessop (1745-1814), one of the most important canal and dock engineers of the day. The General Agent was Thomas Telford (1757-1814), then a little known county surveyor, but to become the most prolific civil engineer of the early nineteenth century. Together, they developed and engineered a solution which was bold, innovative and radical, which at the same time blended in with and even enhanced the existing landscape. The heavily engineered section of the canal lies mainly within Wales, but the length in England has the most significant example of a terraced embankment standing as it does up to 18.3m high and the southern part of the Chirk Aqueduct, which when built in 1801, was the highest such structure to have been built. The Chirk Aqueduct spans the valley of the River Ceiriog and is a roughly coursed limestone rubble structure with ashlar dressings and cast-iron railings on the east side. It is 21.34m (70ft) high with ten round-headed arches divided by pilaster strips and curving end walls. The arches have keystones and imposts struck through to the soffit. The canal is in a trough with cast-iron bed and stone side walls. Much of the stone used to construct the Chirk Aqueduct was extracted from a quarry at NGR SJ 2904137124. This survives as a steep-sided hollow up to 10m deep situated adjacent to and south of the canal. At the north eastern edge of this quarry is an ashlar pillar with iron railings on the side and archway at the front which would have originally led to a footbridge across the canal. Chirk Aqueduct is a Grade II* Listed Building. Modern road and path surfaces, fences, services, safety and emergency apparatus, benches and bollards are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 36055

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Other
World Heritage Steering Group, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal Nomination Document, (2008)
World Heritage Steering Group, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal Nomination Document, (2008)
World Heritage Steering Group, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal Nomination Document, (2008)

End of official listing