The Newport branch of the Shropshire Union leaves the main line at Norbury Junction and connects with the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall and as the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust had a stall at the recent Canal Festival at Norbury we thought we'd take a trip along it. Of course, as the route was abandoned in 1944 and disused for some time before that we thought we'd better use our bikes as "Starcross" wouldn't have got any further than the top lock on the branch, which now functions as Norbury Wharf's dry dock.
The aqueduct seen from the main road
One of the most impressive features of the Shrewsbury Canal is the iron aqueduct at Longdon-on-Tern. This was originally planned as a more conventional masonry construction and it was only when the partly-built structure was washed away by floods in 1795 and Thomas Telford was brought in as engineer that the then revolutionary iron aqueduct came into being. As well as being a significant edifice in its own right, the aqueduct functioned as a precursor to the much grander structure at Pontcysyllte (Pont - cuss - ulch - tay for non-Welsh speakers) on the Ellesmere Canal opened 10 years later.
This view shows the original masonry abutments and the replacement iron trough.
Unlike Pontcysyllte, the towpath crosses the river in a separate trough and the very uneven
sides are bolted together through the external flanges. The aqueduct is now a scheduled ancient monument and, as such, is unlikely to form part of the route of the canal should the Trust ever succeed in its ambition to reopen it. According to their website the whole site is on private land and permission is needed for a visit but this information may be out of date as a notice on the footpath that passes within a few hundred metres indicates that "permissive access" is allowed (which means that you can cross private land to get there without creating a "right of way")