Volunteers working to breathe new life in to Wappenshall Wharf near Telford are close to completing a major milestone in its transformation.
The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust team have been preparing the ground for the Wappenshall Wharf East Basin to be re-watered – the first time it will have been a proper waterway since the canals were officially abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1944.
The volunteers have been working almost every Friday and Saturday for two years to prepare the basin, which has involved removing over 1,400 cubic metres of infill to expose the original clay lining.
The work involves levelling the basin that was infilled in 1967 by the coal merchant who bought the wharf from British Waterways. Concrete slabs have then been laid over a waterproof liner to cover the whole of the base to bring it up to modern day standards. A retaining wall is also being built on the far side, opposite the smaller Telfordian warehouse.
Timber shuttering and steel reinforcement structures have been built and, over a recent weekend, 28 cubic metres of concrete was poured to create the first seven of the slabs and 25 metres of the retaining wall base.
The re-watering of the basin is part of the first phase of the trust’s plan to restore the whole wharf and its Grade II listed warehouses. It will include a café, planned to be opened by the end of 2021, and a visitor centre that will celebrate the life and works of Thomas Telford, after whom the town is named.
Chairman of the Trust, Bernie Jones, said: “Adverse weather conditions and Covid-19 restrictions have greatly delayed the work but we have made great progress.
“A lot of people have been puzzled and asked why we have only put concrete into some of the basin. This method is generally known as ‘hit and miss’ as once these slabs have cured, we will remove all of the shuttering and then more pour concrete into the gaps between them.
“The whole basin will eventually be covered and the retaining wall will be built and the towpath re-established. We plan the next concrete pour in about four weeks’ time.”
Progress of the work can be followed on The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust Facebook page and or www.snct.co.uk.