The Canal and River Trust has started a major overhaul of the Shropshire Union Canal as part of a five-month winter maintenance programme on canals and rivers across England and Wales.

The charity, which cares for 2,000 miles of the nation’s historic waterways, is starting its annual programme of winter repairs.

The works, taking place until the end of February, will see skilled craftsmen painstakingly repairing historic canal walls, locks and bridges as well as installing new gates at certain locks.

The programme will see the Trust invest more than £700,000 on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Sections of canal will be drained, old lock gates lifted out, new gates installed and 200-year-old brickwork carefully restored.

New lock gates are being installed at four locks on the canal in Audlem and Market Drayton .

Other works taking place on the canal include renewing lock ladders and relining gates at Hurleston Locks 2 and 3 and repairing North Gate middle lock.

Derek Kellett, construction supervisor at the Canal and River Trust, said: “The Shropshire Union Canal is enjoyed by thousands of people either on the water or the towpath.

“These works are all about caring for the canal so that it can continue to play an important role in people’s daily lives for many years to come.

“If the Canal & River Trust didn’t carry out works such as these then boats couldn’t visit the area and local people wouldn’t have a safe, enjoyable place to get away from it all.

“Over the next few months our engineers and heritage experts will be braving the cold to give the canal the painstaking care and attention it deserves.”

The Canal and River Trust carries out a year-round programme of works to maintain and repair the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in its care so they can be enjoyed by the 33,000 boats and 10 million towpath visitors each year.

Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users.

n For more on the work of the Canal and River Trust and to find out how you can volunteer and donate to support its work visit