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Friday, April 25, 2014

Two projects aimed at easier canal access

Two projects are making it easier for people to access Wales’ waterway World Heritage Site on the Llangollen Canal. 

A 200-year old ‘roving bridge’ built by Thomas Telford in Trevor is being updated to make it easier for cyclists and people with mobility scooters or pushchairs to cross the canal and a stretch of towpath in Llangollen is being resurfaced. 

The projects are being carried out by Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, as part of its ambition to make the canals of Wales accessible to all. It is being supported with funding from the players of the Peoples Postcode Lottery, WREN Community Landfill Tax, Northern Marches Cymru Rural Development Programme (ERDF), Wrexham County Borough Council, Taith Sustainable Transport, Denbighshire County Council and Sustrans Cymru.

Postles Bridge is a 19th century ‘roving bridge’ that was constructed to allow horses, towing laden canal boats, to cross the canal without the need to be unhitched.  Located immediately next to Trevor Basin in the World Heritage Site it forms a key link between this site and the canal corridor through to Llangollen. 

Access from Postles Bridge back onto the towpath is currently via a cobbled ramp which runs parallel to the canal with a steep turn at the foot of the slope.  The project, which will be completed by the end of May, will construct a new ramp from the bridge to meet current disability requirements, making the canal from Trevor Basin to Llangollen Wharf fully accessible to everyone.

As part of the project, Glandŵr Cymru commissioned Phil Chambers, an independent countryside and heritage consultant, and expert on wheelchair and accessibility issues, to undertake an access audit and provide recommendations to enable better access for all. 

The towpath improvements will include: widening and resurfacing 1,500 metres of towpath along the World Heritage Site between Horseshoe Waterfalls and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, adding to the 16km of towpath already improved by the Glandŵr Cymru. 

Kate Pearson, Deputy Head of Charities, Peoples Postcode Lottery, said: “Our players are delighted to support the project.  Opening up the countryside and making this Welsh World Heritage Site open for all is a really important addition to the local community and all that visit from across the country and beyond.” 

Jim Forrester, chair of the North Wales & Border partnership, said: “The bridge was very steep and the ramp was unsuitable for mobility scooters and cyclists and parents struggled with their pushchairs.  Thanks to the funding the new upgraded bridge and our other project currently on site, to upgrade the towpath along the Llangollen Canal, will allow everyone access to the hugely popular and beautiful World Heritage Site.”

Councillor Huw Jones, Denbighshire's Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, said: "The council is delighted to be supporting this work as we see the canal as one of the Dee Valley's most valuable assets from a tourism perspective.  It is vital that we work with our partners to make sure the infrastructure is in place to enhance our tourism offer and provide visitors with a pleasurable experience when visiting our waterways."

Allan Forrest, Northern Marches Cymru Manager, Wrexham Council, said: “Wrexham Council is pleased to support the improvements to Postles bridge and the towpath which will significantly improve access for the local community and visitors at Trevor Basin.”

Richard Thorogood, grant manager for WREN, said: ‘WREN is very pleased to be a funding partner with such an important project to this World Heritage Site in Wales. The applicants submitted a good application which has resulted in WREN funding £50,000 towards Postles Bridge. The advisory panel were impressed by the consultation which showed that the improvements to Postles Bridge are needed and that local people support the project.’

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