Monday, 4 July 2011

World heritage s*ite?

This is the sight that greets visitors by car to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - Monday lunchtime on a sunny July day and the carpark waste bin clearly hasn't been emptied since before the weekend.
Somehow it's typical of the place: the BW run visitor centre has been closed down - apparently they want one run by volunteers but none seem to have appeared so far. All that remains are some information boards and a small shop run belonging to the hire fleet based there - and operated by someone whose customer facing skills seemed sorely lacking when we visited.
It seems a golden opportunity wasted. A World Heritage site which was teeming with visitors when we walked there today ought to be the jewel in the crown for the waterways. It's a public relations goldmine where the canals can be explained, promoted and visitors won over to the cause. But there was not even a leaflet.
As one local walker we met said: "There was all sorts going on when they were trying to get it to be a World Heritage site but since then nothing."
It's a crying shame: visiting the aqueduct on foot only confirms what a superhuman achievement it was. The soaring stone columns are pieced together out of blocks about 4ft x 2ft x 2ft, all cut so accurately there's scarcely a scrape of mortar between them. Imagine the sheer effort of hoisting them; the huge amount of wooden scaffolding, the sheer numbers of people working on the job. It beggars belief.

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