The Newport Branch

The Newport Branch is entirely closed today. It was originally built as a branch of of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, linking to the Shrewsbury Canal.

From reading articles on the web, you might be lead to believe that much of it is gone. Maybe because it passes through such a desolate area, it hasn’t been built on, so restoration along the original line seems feasible (though of course expensive and slow, as progress on the Montgomery has shown). The section between Norbury Junction and Newport seems like it might be restored relatively easily. The problem with section is the high number of locks, which means a lot of expense (a set of gates for a single lock in in the tens of thousands of pounds range), and also a lot of water supply needed, which would have to come from the Shropshire Union main line. Also, the dry dock at Norbury Junction would have to go.

No restoration is taking place on this canal currently, though the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust have started to make some progress at restoring Wappenshall Junction.

The overlay below was based on information gained from old Ordnance Survey maps, combined with the maps on the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal Trust’s website.

Download the Newport Branch overlay (Google Earth required)


The Whitchurch Branch

The Whitchurch Branch of the Ellesmere Canal ran close to Whitchurch town centre. Today only a short section remains, used mainly for moorings.

The overlay below was based on information gained from the 1902 Ordnance Survey map. Because there are few distinguishing features remaining, I may have got the path a few metres out, but that’s all.

There are plans to reinstate the Whitchurch Branch, but looking at the overlay, I’m less optimistic than I was.

Download the Whitchurch Branch overlay (Google Earth required)


The Prees Branch

The Prees Branch on the Llangollen Canal is today a short branch that leads to Whixhall Marina. It was originally longer, reaching Quina Brook, though like many canal schemes it didn’t reach its original goal of Prees.

The bridge names have come from the 1902 Ordnance Survey map. Interestingly this map also refers to the branch as the Edstaston Branch. I’d never heard it referred to by this name before, though this makes sense, as the branch passed Edstaston, but never reached Prees.

Some of this section of canal is now a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Download the Prees Branch overlay. (Google Earth required)


The Woodhouse diversion

The Montgomery Canal has a long straight section, just south of the Perry aqueduct. It then heads towards Rednal Basin. It wasn’t always this way though.

When the canal was originally under construction one of the members of the original Ellesmere Canal Committee persuaded the company to divert the course of the canal to run closer to his estate (the Woodhouse estate), with a short branch towards his house. Later the canal was moved back to its original planned line. As with so many things about the canal, the original documents are either vague or missing. Apprently the now disused section continued to hold water for some time though, and was marked on old maps as “old Canal”. I can’t find any of these maps though!

So, the Google Earth overlay below is based on what I can see, and make a best guess based on ground markings, lines of trees, and a sketch of the the old line. I can’t see the branch to the house though. If you know more, you can always email me.

Download the Google Earth overlay

Information from “Montgomeryshire Canal and the Llanymynech Branch of the Ellesmere Canal” by John Horsley Denton (1982).


No-one mentions the Weston Arm…

The Weston Arm of the Montgomery Canal ran from Welsh Frankton to Weston Lullingfields, and was built as part of the Ellesmere Canal. It was originally going to be the main line, taking traffic from the River Mersey at (what is now) Ellesmere Port to the River Severn at Shrewsbury, however like so many canal schemes it was never completed as intended. It ended up being closed in 1919 after a breach. Canal books often make many references to the Weston Arm, but few give it any real detail. After seeing the tiny stub of the canal that remains, I wondered where it went.

I’d already spent a little time looking at Google Earth, and cross-referencing with old maps. It sat on my computer for a few months, doing nothing, until a friend mentioned that he’d been wondering the same. So this is for Martin! The file below should open in Google Earth (which you can get from

weston branch.kmz