Positive future pledged for wharf restoration
The trustees behind a scheme to breathe new life into historic canal buildings near Telford have promised to press ahead with the long-term transformation despite missing out on lottery funding.
The Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust will continue with plans to turn Wappenshall Wharf into a visitor and heritage centre by exploring other funding and ways of carrying out the work.
The trust had a second application for £1.88m turned down by the Heritage Lottery Fund in March.
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 traveling between Norbury Junction and Shrewsbury, some 25 miles.
After the Shrewsbury and Newport canals officially closed, a coal merchant used the buildings until 1967 and then by a truck repair company until 2009. Telford & Wrekin Council then led an initiative to buy the site and lease it to the SNCT.
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.
Some preparatory work has already taken place on a small warehouse that will become a café and developing that facility will be the first target.
SNCT Chairman Bernie Jones said: “This is an historically important site that deserves to be restored to its former glory and preserved for generations to come.
“The trustees have unanimously agreed to explore using our existing funds, possible pledges and other potential sources of funding, to go ahead with a planned sequential restoration of the site.
“Much of the matched funding that we obtained for our HLF bid was dependant on us getting the funding, so we will now be approaching all these supporters to find out if they are prepared to give us their help. Some significant other grants are available to us and there are still more that we are now free to apply for.
Telford & Wrekin Council, which owns the Wappenshall site, has recently agreed to extend its lease with the Trust until 2022.
Mr Jones added: “We know that among our 1,400 members there are people with the qualifications, expertise and experience that can significantly assist us.
“Our volunteers can do a lot of the work and they are as keen as we are to preserve this piece of Shropshire history. We aim to restore Wappenshall Wharf in separate phases and as and when further funding becomes available.”