Heritage of Wales

Llangollen Canal (Image: DS2007_063_001 / NPRN: 405725 / Source: RCAHMW) Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen Canal, Froncysllte. 2005. (Image: DI2005_0878 / NPRN: 34410)

World Heritage Wales

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Llangollen Canal

The Llangollen Canal and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct together represent a masterpiece in canal engineering and an outstanding example of the improvement of transport during the Industrial Revolution. The canal was built between 1795 and 1808 by two outstanding figures in the development of civil engineering, Thomas Telford and William Jessop and at the time of its completion was described as ‘composed of works more difficult of execution than can perhaps be found anywhere within an equal distance of canal navigation’. The engineers had the challenge of cutting a waterway across the uplands of north-east Wales and as a result, all the features that were to become characteristic of highly engineered transport routes can be seen. These include tunnels, cuttings, aqueducts and embankments, many of them technically innovative or of a monumental scale, together with bridges, culverts, weirs and associated features such as wharves, horse-drawn railways and the houses and offices of the engineers and canal workers. Over 200 years since its opening the canal is still in operation and is one of the busiest stretches of canal in the United Kingdom.

In 2009 Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal was inscribed as a World Heritage Status and became the third World Heritage Site in Wales, alongside the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd and Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. The process of World Heritage Nomination was led by the Royal Commission, Wrexham County Borough Council and British Waterways, with the nomination document and related conference papers available for purchase. Royal Commission work has included photographic and documentary recording of nearly 200 features along the eleven miles of canal that comprise the nominated site, from Gledrid Bridge near Rhoswiel to the Horseshoe Falls north-west of Llangollen. By searching for Llangollen Canal on Coflein you will be able to access all this information. Detailed surveys of some of the most important individual monuments were also undertaken and include the two great aqueducts, at Chirk and Pontcysyllte together with the Scotch Hall Bridge at the Trefor Basin. The results of this work can be seen by clicking on the media links at the bottom of this page. Here, you will also be able to view an animation by the visualisation company See3D Ltd, detailing the construction of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

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