Day 129 mile 129: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Today finds me further from home than normal so I took the opportunity to run a mile along one of the engineering marvels of the world. It really is a bit of a treat. This is not me grasping at hyperbole, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a UNESCO world heritage site satisfying at least 3 of their criterion, any one of which would be enough to qualify!
Criterion (i): The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a highly innovative monumental civil engineering structure, made using metal arches supported by high, slender masonry piers. It is the first great masterpiece of the civil engineer Thomas Telford and formed the basis of his outstanding international reputation. It bears witness to the production capacities of the British ironmaking industry, which were unique at that time.
Criterion (ii): The intensive construction of canals in Great Britain, from the second half of the 18th century onwards, and that of the Pontcysyllte Canal in particular in a difficult region, bear witness to considerable technical interchanges and decisive progress in the design and construction of artificial waterways.
Criterion (iv): The Pontcysyllte Canal and its civil engineering structures bear witness to a crucial stage in the development of heavy cargo transport in order to further the Industrial Revolution. They are outstanding representatives of its new technical and monumental possibilities.
The aqueduct was built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop near the original road crossing. After the canal route was approved, the plan was to create a series of locks down both sides of the valley to an embankment that would carry the Ellesmere Canal over the River Dee. However, after Telford was hired the plan was changed to an aquaduct.
It took about ten years from design to construction, cost around of £47,000, roughly £4 million today. The aqueduct officially opened on 26 November 1805 and a plaque commemorating its inauguration reads:
THE NOBILITY AND GENTRY, THE ADJACENT COUNTIES HAVING UNITED THEIR EFFORTS WITH THE GREAT COMMERCIAL INTERESTS OF THIS COUNTRY. IN CREATING AN INTERCOURSE AND UNION BETWEEN ENGLAND AND NORTH WALES BY A NAVIGABLE COMMUNICATION OF THE THREE RIVERS, SEVERNE DEE AND MERSEY FOR THE MUTUAL BENEFIT OF AGRICULTURE AND TRADES, CAUSED THE FIRST STONE OF THIS AQUEDUCT OF PONTCYSYLLTY, TO BE LAID ON THE 25TH DAY OF JULY MDCCXCV. WHEN RICHARD MYDDELTON OF CHIRK, ESQ, M.P. ONE OF THE ORIGINAL PATRONS OF THE ELLESMERE CANAL WAS LORD OF THIS MANOR, AND IN THE REIGN OF OUR SOVEREIGN GEORGE THE THIRD. WHEN THE EQUITY OF THE LAWS, AND THE SECURITY OF PROPERTY, PROMOTED THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THE NATION. WHILE THE ARTS AND SCIENCES FLOURISHED BY HIS PATRONAGE AND THE CONDUCT OF CIVIL LIFE WAS IMPROVED BY HIS EXAMPLE.
The bridge is 307 m long, 3.7 m wide and 1.60 m deep. It consists of an iron trough supported 126 ft 38 m above the river on iron arched ribs carried on eighteen hollow pillars each of which span 16 m!
Many thanks as ever for all the support especially to Allan Forrest (not quite sure of his role but he seems to have a Wrexham council email) who kindly corresponded and enabled me to do this legitimately.
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 1628.4 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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