The Montgomery Canal here is so peaceful that it’s hard to imagine this area as a centre of industrial activity. There are clues in the landscape to help you picture the past, especially on the far side of the canal. Notice the large indentations in the canal bank where narrow boats once pulled in to load or turn. Part of the wharf was on the Welsh side (the road bridge marks the border) and the main remnants are on the English side.
Llanymynech was a prime objective for the canal promoters because of its existing and potential limestone quarrying. The canal, which eventually extended to Newtown, had reached Llanymynech by 1786.
Limestone was carried to the wharf from the quarries to the north by horse and cart initially, then on basic tramways from the early 19th century. Lime was needed for mortar in buildings and to fertilise farmland. Limekilns – where limestone was burned with coal to break it down into lime – sprang up in Llanymynech and elsewhere along the canal.
The wharf’s decline began when the Cambrian Railways opened its branch line to Llanymynech in 1863. It’s thought that the wharf was disused by about 1900. The lime industry continued to thrive. A large Hoffman kiln (named after its German inventor, Friedrich Hoffman) was built c.1899 alongside the railway. You can see its tall chimney above the trees north of the wharf on the English side. This unusually well preserved rectangular kiln has 14 chambers for continuous operation. Limestone was burned in some chambers while others were being emptied or loaded. The Hoffman kiln closed in 1914 and the railway in 1965.
The community-run visitor centre beside the canal, west of the road bridge, hosts displays about the canal and local crafts. It sometimes provides canal trips on its boat, named George Watson Buck.
With thanks to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
Postcode: SY22 6EA