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Friday, 19 June 2015

New ‘Bible’ To Pontcysyllte Published

Britain’s most recent World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, near Wrexham, comes under the spotlight in a new lively, combined history and guide book.

Published in English and Welsh by the Canal & River Trust, in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and with the support of Visit Wales and Cadw, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site takes readers on a fascinating journey through time.

Written by historian Dr Peter Wakelin, it examines how and why the aqueduct and canal were built just over 200 years ago, how they influenced the Industrial Revolution and what visitors to the canal can enjoy today – the aqueducts, tunnels, cuttings, embankment, wharfs, settlements and remains of industries. The story is broken down into easily-digested chapters and sections to guide walkers, boaters and visitors by car or bike. There is help too for non-Welsh speakers on pronunciation of the great monument - ‘pont-cuss-ull-teh’ meaning ‘the bridge that joins’.

Each of the main attractions along the 11-mile World Heritage Site is explained and special features are devoted to a range of topics including key figures such as engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, canal navvies, boat people, wildlife and other nearby World Heritage sites.

Maps, diagrams, historical photographs and paintings as well as striking reconstruction images all help to illustrate the text and bring this unique canal story to life.

Andrew Stumpf from the Canal & River Trust said: “Every year more than 500,000 people enjoy a visit to the World Heritage Site. We want them to enjoy the experience even more by having a chance to find out about the significance of the structures they are looking at and the role they played not only in local history but in the world. This guide book will both enhance and enrich their experience and, I hope, encourage them to stay longer and explore further”.

“Author Peter Wakelin has done a first rate job in balancing the needs of the serious historian with the casual interest of a day trip visitor. Within the pages of the book are fascinating facts, sumptuous colour illustrations and useful tips on how to get the most out of a visit to the Llangollen, Chirk and the wider area.”

Royal Commission Secretary, Christopher Catling, added: “ Today it is difficult to hear the words “Industrial Revolution” without thinking about human exploitation and climate change but Peter’s book reminds us that it had another side: he shows us that the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal is a magnificent achievement of engineering, ingenuity and architectural beauty.”

The book has been supported by contributions from Visit Wales and Cadw, is priced £9.99 and is available to buy from the Canal & River Trust at Trevor Basin, Anderton Boat Lift, Standedge Tunnel and waterway museums at Ellesmere Port, Gloucester and Stoke Bruerne.

It is also available by post. Please send cheque for £12.50 (includes post and packing), payable to Canal & River Trust, addressed to Jenny Rogers, National Waterway Museum, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 4FW with full postal details or email a contact number to to purchase by credit card.

For more information or to request a review copy of the book, please contact Lynn Pegler / Clive Naish, press officers with Glandŵr Cymru (the Canal & River Trust in Wales).
Email: or 077177 60284.

Notes to editors

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Facts and Figures
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal became a World Heritage site in 2009, recognised alongside just 1000 sites around the globe that are deemed to be of outstanding universal value, such as the Grand Canyon, the Pyramids and Stonehenge.
  • The cast iron trough which holds the canal water is 307m long and at its highest point it is 38.4m above the river Dee
  • There are 19 arches, 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.
  • The aqueduct holds 1.5 million litres of water and takes two hours to drain.
  • Constructed between 1796 and 1805, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a grade one listed building and a scheduled ancient monument and forms the centrepiece of the 11 mile World Heritage Site.
Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, cares for Wales’ historic canals, made up of the Swansea, Llangollen, Montgomery and Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals. Our canals are a haven for people and wildlife and a national treasure. Built over 200 years ago as part of the world’s first industrial revolution, the waterways continue to play an important part in the life of Wales today, making an annual contribution of £34m and supporting 800 jobs in local businesses.

Canal & River Trust cares for 2,000 miles of canals, rivers and docks across England and Wales. It is our job to care for this wonderful legacy – holding it in trust in perpetuity and giving people a greater role in the running of their local waterways. @CanalRiverTrust @crtcomms

Dr Peter Wakelin is a writer and curator who specialises in industrial heritage and Welsh art. He was formerly the Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and edited the nomination of Pontcysyllte as a World Heritage site in 2007. He was also a key member of the nomination team for Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage site in South Wales in 2000. Until recently he was Director of Collections and Research at the National Museum of Wales. His publications include A Guide to Blaenavon Ironworks and World Heritage Site and Hidden Histories: Discovering the Heritage of Wales.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
The Royal Commission is the investigation body and national archive for the historic environment of Wales. It has the lead role in ensuring that Wales’s archaeological, built and maritime heritage is authoritatively recorded, and seeks to promote the understanding and appreciation of this heritage nationally and internationally. @RCAHMWales

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