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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct celebrates 10 years of World Heritage Status

This year, Britain’s highest and longest aqueduct, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, will celebrate 10 years of World Heritage Status designation, giving it membership of an elite club of sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.

Since the designation, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has become a ‘Must Do’ destination for thousands of international tourists and visitor numbers have quadrupled, with nearly half a million people viewing the ‘Stream in the Sky’ and the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre in 2018.

The aqueduct has also become a regular media star, hosting lots of TV programmes, including ‘Bargain Hunt’, ‘Antiques Road Trip’, ‘Lost Railway Walks’, ‘Escape to the Country’, CBBC and several news broadcasts.

To mark this important milestone, The Canal & River Trust charity in Wales, Glandwr Cymru, will be working with local partners to organise 12 months of celebrations, including a new photography competition, a specially-brewed beer, spectacular luminaire structure lighting, an ‘Under the Arches’ celebration and other community events.

Lynda Slater, Trevor Basin visitor centre manager with the Canal & River Trust, says: “The World Heritage Status has made a world of difference to this spectacular structure and the 11 miles of Llangollen Canal which surround it. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has gone from being a national treasure to a tourist destination of international significance.“

The Llangollen Canal is one of the most popular canals in the country with hire boaters. With the opportunity to cruise over two stunning aqueducts at Pontcysyllte and Chirk, and meander through the beautiful Welsh countryside, it is a hot favourite with people wanting to spend their holiday time on the waterways. 

Our canal boat hire base at Trevor Basin has long been one of our most popular departure points, and from April this year, we will also be offering narrowboat hire from our new boat yard at Whixall Marina, on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.

2019 Short breaks (three or four nights) from Trevor and Whixall start at £495 on a boat for four people, £705 for a week.

We also offer day boat hire from Trevor, just a five minutes by boat from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  Prices start at £120 for a day boat for up to 10 people.

Pontcysyllte Fact File

  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal became a World Heritage Site on 27 June, 2009.
  • Pontcysyllte is pronounced - ‘pont-cuss-ull-teh’ meaning ‘the bridge that joins’
  • The Pontcysyllte is a Grade I listed building, a scheduled ancient monument and forms the centrepiece of the 11 mile World Heritage Site.
  • The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, compiled over 60 years ago by Robert Aickman, co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and published in his book Know Your Waterways.
  • The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was constructed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1796 and 1805 during the Industrial Revolution to enable slate and limestone to be moved from quarries in North Wales to the Midlands and beyond.
  • The aqueduct measures a record-breaking 1,000 ft (307m) long and at its highest point it is 126 ft (38.4m) above the River Dee.
  • A cast iron trough, which holds 330,000 gallons (1.5 million litres) of water, is 11ft wide and 5ft 3ins deep. It is emptied by pulling out a giant plug in the centre and takes two hours to drain.
  • With not even a handrail on the north side, when travelling across by canal boat, it’s probably the most heart-stopping and exhilarating experience on the canal network!
  • There are 19 elegant arches and 18 slender sandstone piers, each with a 45ft span.
  • To keep the aqueduct as light as possible, the slender masonry piers are partly hollow and taper at their summit.
  • Incredibly, ox blood was added to the lime mortar which binds the structure’s masonry together, following an ancient superstition that the blood of a strong animal would strengthen a structure. And sugar was boiled with Welsh flannel then mixed with tar to seal the cast joints of the structure’s cast iron trough.
  • Visitors come from all over the world, with Australians and Japanese heading the international league table. Signing the centre’s visitor book last year were tourists from 52 countries from faraway places such as Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as most European nations.
  • Repairs to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct handrail are among eight vital maintenance projects being undertaken by the Canal & River Trust along the Welsh Border canals this winter.

 Cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on your canal boat holiday