"Thomas Telford's Wappenshall Wharf" wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Ambitious plans to restore the canal warehouses at Wappenshall in north Telford and create "Thomas Telford's Wappenshall Wharf" have received a boost with an announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) that it will support a full award of almost £1million with a phase one award of £72,000.

The Shrewsbury and Newport Canal Trust (SNCT) will restore Thomas Telford's magnificent canal-side warehouses and wharf at the junction of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals at Wappenshall to create "Thomas Telford's Wappenshall Wharf". The site is important and appropriate as the Shrewsbury Canal was Telford's first canal and the Newport Canal was his last. Work is planned to start in the Autumn of 2014 and will be completed within 2 years. 

A first round grant of £72,000 has been awarded to the SNCT to fund the development of the plans for the project. This success is a key step to prepare for a second round application for a further £909,900 to be used with other grants to complete the work at a total cost of £1.453 million. 

The project aims to carry out essential conservation work to restore the warehouses to include a centre that will pay homage to Thomas Telford, the celebrated engineer, incorporating innovative ways to present the heritage of the county's canals to a wide audience. The restored buildings will include a cafe and a space for community use and business meeting, celebrations and other events. An educational programme is also planned that will involve students from local schools and colleges from Telford, Shrewsbury and Newport. 

SNCT volunteers and members of the public will also be able to get involved in many ways. As well as acting as guides once the project is completed, there will be opportunities to learn new skills during the build phase too. The project will create many jobs during the restoration and some permanent employment once open. 

Wappenshall Wharf was built between 1835 and 1838 as a loading point for goods to be transported by canal and it acted as a "half way house" for narrowboats travelling between Norbury Junction and Shrewsbury, some 24.5 miles. After the Shrewsbury and Newport canals were officially closed the buildings were used as a coal merchants up till 1967 and then by a truck repair company until 2009. Telford and Wrekin Council's Cllr. Eric Carter then led an initiative to buy the site and lease it to the SNCT. 

SNCT Chairman, Bernie Jones (of Withington) said: "This is the most important and exciting development in our Trust's history. Once we have restored the wharf here at Wappenshall it will send a signal to everyone that the Shrewsbury and Newport canals' restoration is really underway. Within this site at the heart of the project, we can now attract match funding and start the restoration of the canals themselves."

Reyahn King, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands, said "We're extremely pleased to give initial support to this project, which aims to bring this site back to life for the community to use and to tell the story of Thomas Telford and the Shrewsbury and Newport canals, will reveal fascinating aspects of canal development during the industrial revolution once restored, and will offer many people the chance to get involved and learn about the heritage on their doorstep."

About the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust
Formed in 2000, the Trust aims to protect, conserve and improve the route of the Shrewsbury and Newport canals, and branches, for the benefit of the community and for the environment, with the ultimate goal of restoring a navigable waterway linking Norbury Junction to Shrewsbury. For more information visit - www.sncanal.org.uk