West of the lifting bridge and footbridge at Froncysyllte, the Llangollen canal broadens and turns northwards. This was the limit of the canal from Shropshire for a few years, until Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was finished in 1805. At the temporary terminus, the canal had to be wide enough for narrow boats to turn for the journey south. Buildings provided for canal workers, including an educational institute, still stand near the basin.
Limekilns were built to the east of the lifting bridge. They were fed by tramways from the Pen y Graig limestone quarries, on the hillside about 1km south west of the basin. The lime – used for agriculture and for industry – was loaded directly into canal boats for distribution as far away as Cheshire, Staffordshire and the Midlands of England.
From the towpath on the north side of the canal here, you can glimpse the iron spans of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct beyond the fields. At this elevation, the Dee Valley is wider than any space which had previously been bridged by a canal aqueduct in Britain, and the canal company initially planned a flight of locks down into the valley, where the Dee would be crossed with a conventional aqueduct. The radical alternative of a high-level aqueduct made the canal journey much quicker and avoided the large water losses which would have resulted from operation of locks.
With thanks to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
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