Article and Narrowboat Photographs: Jonathan White
Shroppie Shelf photograph supplied with permission.
The Shropshire Union Canal has revealed one of its secrets near Nantwich during the pandemic.
Under current Covid-19 lockdown regulations only people who live aboard their boat can be on them, due to the official ‘Stay at home’ order. They can only move their boat for essential travel which includes accessing water or waste facilities and getting food and supplies.
The reduced number of boats moving along the canal system has led to the water becoming clearer as less silt and sediment is stirred up.
As a result, a feature called the ‘Shroppie Shelf’ can be viewed. The Shroppie Shelf is a protruding concrete shelf located a few inches below water level.
When the Shropshire Union Canal was constructed two hundred years ago the shelf was cutting-edge technology used to reduce wash and protect the embankment.
Working boats at the time stopped at wharfs overnight (usually near a pub), so the shelf itself was not a problem.
However, the modern popularity of the canal system has meant that this hidden under water feature has regularly caught out the unwary boater.
Therefore, boaters familiar with the Shroppie Shelf carry small tyres to place between the bank and the boat to protect their boat when mooring.