Chirk Aqueduct and the railway viaduct behind it
|OS grid reference|
|Maintained by||British Waterways|
|Trough construction||Cast iron|
|Total length||710 feet (220 m)|
|Height||70 feet (21 m)|
|Number of spans||Ten|
Chirk Aqueduct is a 70-foot (21 m) high and 710-foot (220 m) long navigable aqueduct that carries what is now the Llangollen Canal across the Ceiriog Valley near Chirk, on the England-Wales border, spanning the two countries.
The aqueduct was designed by Thomas Telford for the Ellesmere Canal and completed in 1801. 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. It is Grade II* listed in both England and Wales.
Telford pioneered the use of cast iron in bridges as well as aqueducts, and cast iron troughs were widely used elsewhere on the British canal network, especially where a secure and watertight crossing or bridge was needed. Another famous example is the Cosgrove Aqueduct on the Grand Junction Canal at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.
The aqueduct consists of ten arches, each with a span of 40 feet (12 m). The water level is 65 feet (20 m) above the ground and 70 feet (21 m) above the River Ceiriog. The first stone was laid on 17 June 1796. William Hazledine provided the ironwork for the aqueduct. 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.
The Chirk Tunnel starts at the north end of the Chirk Aqueduct, allowing the canal to continue on towards Llangollen.
A railway viaduct was built later alongside the aqueduct. It is somewhat higher.
- Samuel Smiles (2004). The Life of Thomas Telford. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4191-6991-2.
- Samuel Smiles (1861). Lives of the Engineers, with an Account of Their Principal Works. J. Murray.
- Historic England. "Chirk Aqueduct (Grade II*) (1295150)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
- A. W. Skempton (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2939-X.
- Roger Cragg (1997). Wales and West Central England: Wales and West Central England, 2nd Edition. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2576-9.
- Quenby, Ron (1992). Thomas Telford's Aqueducts on the Shropshire Union Canal. Swan Hill Press. ISBN 1-8531-0246-6.
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