Audlem History Society January Talk

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Frosty Canal Scene

The Shropshire Union Canal from 1967 to 2019, by Ian Wilson.

The Scout and Guide Hall was packed to the rafters for January's meeting, the first of the year and of the new decade too, of course. The speaker, Ian Wilson, a local man from Nantwich, whose family had been canal enthusiasts since the 60s, brought along his extensive slide collection to illustrate his talk, comparing and contrasting the changes which had taken place along our canal over the past 50 years.
The talk was in 2 halves, the first taking us along the canal from Nantwich to Ellesmere Port, the second from Nantwich to Autherley Junction by Wolverhampton. Construction of the first phase began in 1772, and Ian showed many slides of historical interest, such as the Shot Tower at Chester, one of only 3 such structures remaining in the UK. This was part of Chester's lead works and made musket balls for the Napoleonic Wars. Another series of slides showed an icebreaker barge, called "Middlewich", found in a submerged dry dock along the canal. "Middlewich" was subsequently restored and is now on show at Blist's Hill museum.
Ian's talk was full of interesting asides, such as the measures taken to ensure that 14 miles of canal water will never empty over the town of Nantwich if a breach were to occur, as the lock gates lock automatically; or that treated sewage water draining into the canal along the stretch near Autherley Junction means that the canal will never run dry!
Ian was an enthusiastic speaker, and it was especially fascinating to see the great changes that are noticeable along our stretch of the canal over the last half century.

Brenda Smethurst.

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