Chirk Aqueduct

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Chirk Aqueduct
Shropshire, Denbighshire
Chirk Aqueduct and the railway viaduct behind it
Type: Navigable aqueduct
Carrying: Llangollen Canal
Crossing: Ceiriog Valley
Grid reference: SJ287373
Location: 52°55’42"N, 3°3’44"W
Length: 710 feet
No. of spans: Ten
Type: Navigable aqueduct
Material: Cast iron/masonry
Built 1796-1801
Architect: Thomas Telford
Owned by: Canal & River Trust

Chirk Aqueduct is a 70-foot-high and 710-foot-long navigable aqueduct that carries what is now the Llangollen Canal across the Ceiriog Valley near Chirk, on the border of Shropshire and Denbighshire.


The aqueduct was designed by Thomas Telford for the Ellesmere Canal. The foundation stone was laid on 17 June 1796 and it was completed in 1801.[1] It has a cast iron trough within which the water is contained. The masonry walls hide the cast iron interior. The aqueduct followed Telford's innovative Longdon-on-Tern Aqueduct on the Shrewsbury Canal, and was a forerunner of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, also on the Llangollen Canal.[2] The aqueduct was briefly the tallest navigable one ever built, and it now is Grade II* listed in both England and Wales.[3][4] It forms part of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site.[4]


Looking from Shropshire into Denbighshire along the Aqueduct. The entrance to the Chirk Tunnel is visible behind it.

The aqueduct consists of ten arches, each with a span of 40 ft. The water level is 65 ft above the ground and 70 ft above the River Ceiriog.[1] The stone work is yellow sandstone.[4] William Hazledine provided the ironwork for the aqueduct.[5] Originally built with iron plates only at the base of the trough, iron side plates were added to the aqueduct in 1870 to alleviate leakage.[6][7]

The Chirk Tunnel starts at the north end of the Chirk Aqueduct, allowing the canal to continue on towards Llangollen.[4] A railway viaduct was built later alongside the aqueduct. It is higher than the aqueduct,[7] which was specifically included in the design in order to emphasise the superiority of rail transportation over water modes.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Samuel Smiles (2004). The Life of Thomas Telford. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4191-6991-2. 
  2. Samuel Smiles (1861). Lives of the Engineers, with an Account of Their Principal Works. J. Murray. 
  3. National Heritage List 1295150: Chirk Aqueduct (Grade II* listing)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 (PDF) Chirk Conservation Area: Draft Character Assessment & Management Plan. June 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  5. A. W. Skempton (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2939-X. 
  6. Roger Cragg (1997). Wales and West Central England: Wales and West Central England, 2nd Edition. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2576-9. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Quenby, Ron (1992). Thomas Telford's Aqueducts on the Shropshire Union Canal. Swan Hill Press. ISBN 1-8531-0246-6. 

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