Dry docks, Trevor basin
The towpath here passes dry docks where narrow boats (long, thin canal boats) are still taken for maintenance. When a boat needs attention to its hull, it is moved into one of the two dry docks and positioned over cradles. Once the water has been drained, staff can inspect and repair the underside. The dock is refilled when the boat’s ready to leave.
Today the dry docks are owned and used by Anglo-Welsh Waterway Holidays, mainly to maintain leisure boats. They were once an important facility for the cargo boats which plied the canal.
The dry docks were noted here in an 1838 survey. They may have been part of the original layout of Trevor basin when the canal extension across Pontcysyllte aqueduct was opened in 1805. The southern dock is open to the elements. The northern one had been enclosed by a workshop building by 1875. Much of the building survives. The roof is supported on girders which appear to be from recycled Victorian railway track. The letters GNR on one girder suggest that the iron was previously part of the Great Northern Railway, in eastern England.
The dry docks’ manager lived in the nearby house called Dock Cottage, which in 1838 hosted a smithy and beer shop. The original cottage was made of sandstone. The brick-built sections show where it was later enlarged. Notice how the roof was raised by c.1 metre in 1902.
The timber bridge which carries the towpath over the dry docks’ entrances swings aside to allow boats to enter or leave. Thomas Telford, who oversaw the aqueduct’s construction, may have been involved in the swing bridge’s design. The pivot is between the two docks. Telford later used a similar design, in cast iron, on the Caledonian Canal through the Scottish Highlands.