Planet Online

Michael Freeman reviews
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
by Peter Wakelin

pontcysyllte aqueduct

Canal and River Trust and RCAHMW, £9.95

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and its associated Llangollen canal were built between 1793 and 1808. In 2009 they were inscribed on the World Heritage list. Peter Wakelin’s substantial and superbly illustrated guide is a worthy companion to this outstanding monument to Wales’ industrial past, now serving as a very popular tourist attraction.

The volume is divided into two equal parts: the first explains in detail the history of the engineering works and the context within which they were constructed; the second provides a very helpful guide for those who wish to travel along the canal by foot, bicycle or boat.

Wakelin’s authoritative text, with the assistance of many excellent illustrations, clearly explains how Thomas Telford and William Jessop were able to overcome the many practical obstructions to creating an almost level route for the canal in an undulating terrain, thus bringing a much needed form of transport for heavy goods into the potentially productive area around Llangollen. At the time the canal was constructed, many roads in the area were in a very poor state; Wales, with its extensive mineral and other natural resources, attracted innovative methods to overcome the difficulties of transporting the valuable products to the markets in England and beyond. Entrepreneurs who were prepared to invest time and money into improving methods of transport led the field in tramway, aqueduct, bridge and road construction.

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