The Coronavirus emergency has affected many planned Montgomery Canal events in the coming months. Most notable are the Montgomery Canal Triathlon due on 2 May and the monthly work parties of the Shropshire Union Canal Society. Other lost events include the planned presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Waterways at Westminster on 23 March, a week-long display of Shropshire canal projects at the Abbey Station Visitor Centre, Shrewsbury due to run from 28 April to 4 May, and the Montgomery Canal Forum on 27th April.
Speaking for the Restore the Montgomery Canal! group which promotes the next stages of restoration, Chairman Michael Limbrey said,
“The next few months were going to be a busy time for the Montgomery Canal. The annual Triathlon has already received over 200 bookings from people who would cycle, run and canoe the canal from end to end. The SUCS volunteers on the restoration work parties were gearing up for busy summer to reline the canal to the newly-restored Crickheath Basin. Elsewhere there were plans for meetings to promote the next stages of restoration and, not least, for events at which we would be raising more funds for the next big project, the reconstruction of the last road blockage in Shropshire. It will be possible to resume some of these activities when the emergency is over but we shall have lost valuable time.
“The postponement of the Triathlon to next year will have been a great disappointment to entrants and to the organisers who were hoping it would raise funds for the canal. Some entrants have kindly donated their entry fees to the restoration; others have been happy to carry their entry forward to next year’s event on Saturday 8th May 2021 – that means there are bookings for next year's Triathlon thirteen months in advance!
“Another cancellation is the Montgomery Canal Forum due on 27th April. This is an annual public meeting with news and updates about the canal and its restoration. It is hoped that the Forum can be rescheduled in the autumn.
“We are now starting to see the cancellation of rallies and shows where members of the public have been so generous with their support. We have recently heard of the cancellation of two events in June, the Welshpool Transport Festival which features activity on the canal, and the Historic Narrowboat Festival at Braunston, near Rugby, a celebration of traditional working boats. The story of the Montgomery Canal and its restoration always generates a lot of interest at these events and we shall miss the opportunity to raise funds and recruit volunteers.
“We do still have to raise funds to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge next year – and indeed to start some of the preparatory work later this year – so we can only appeal to anyone who can see the benefit of reopening the canal to Llanymynech and mid-Wales to support us through our website www.RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal.uk or www.LocalGiving.org/RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal .”
Commenting on the suspension of their volunteer work parties Shropshire Union Canal Society Project Manager David Carter said,
“Having finished all of the preparation work for the final phase of the channel it is bitterly disappointing to have to stop but, alas, we have no choice”.
Updated information about events on the Montgomery Canal will be on www.RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal.uk/covid-19.html.