Nowadays, this 200 year old aqueduct is known for its spectacular views and the thrill of crossing it, either on foot or in a narrowboat.
At 126ft high, 1007ft long, and only 7ft wide, it’s a real adventure whichever way you choose to travel across. But what does ‘Pontcysyllte’ mean? How do you pronounce it? And why was it built in the first place?
It’ll come as no surprise to discover that ‘Pontcysyllte’ is Welsh – it means ‘the bridge that connects’. The original idea of building it dates back to the end of the 18th century, when a public meeting was held in Ellesmere to discuss planning a canal that could link the 3 rivers of the Mersey, the Dee and the Severn.
….a masterpiece of human creative genius.
At that time, canals were the quickest and safest way to move goods and raw materials (railways hadn’t been invented and the roads were terrible). Thomas Telford was appointed as the architect and the construction was supervised by the civil engineer William Jessop.
Work started in 1795 and it took 10 years to complete. During that time, Thomas Telford lived in what is now called the Telford Inn in Trevor, just beyond the aqueduct – you can still visit the Inn today. In those days, the substances used to make up the mortar were water, lime and Ox blood.
In 2009 UNESCO added the aqueduct to the World Heritage List, calling it a “masterpiece of human creative genius”. And in 2012 the Olympic torch was carried across on a narrowboat. There have been some novel methods used for crossing it, including in kayaks, on paddle boards and once by a pantomime horse towing the boat!
Thousands of visitors have crossed the aqueduct since it first opened – the sheer wonder of seeing it leading it to be nicknamed ‘the Stream in the Sky’. And how do you pronounce it? According to the official Pontcysyllte Aqueduct website, it’s something like “PONT KER SUCK TAY”.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]