THE CANAL and River Trust charity in Wales, Glandŵr Cymru, this year celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct receiving world heritage status.

In 2009, the 200-year-old aqueduct, built by canal engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop, joined the elite club of 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites which includes such iconic structures as Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

The enhanced profile provided by the special heritage status has made the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct a destination for thousands of international tourists. Visitor numbers have quadrupled over the decade, with nearly half a million people viewing the ‘Stream in the Sky’ and the Trevor Basin Visitor Centre last year, providing a major boost for the local economy.

Visitors come from all over the world, with Australians and Japanese heading the international league table. Signing the centre’s visitor book last year were tourists from 52 countries from faraway places such as Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as most of Europe.

Over the coming year, the trust, which looks after 2,000 miles of waterways, will be working closely with Wrexham, Denbighshire and Shropshire councils and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment organisation, to organise 12 months of celebrations and events to mark this important milestone.

A new photography competition, a specially-brewed beer, luminaire structure lighting, ‘Under the Arches’ celebration and a wide range of community and cultural events and workshops are due to take place.

Lynda Slater, Trevor Basin visitor centre manager with the Canal and River Trust, said: “The World Heritage Status has made a world of difference to this spectacular structure and the 11 miles of Llangollen Canal which surround it. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has gone from being a national treasure to a tourist destination of international significance.

“During the main summer season we get coach loads of tourists from dozens of different countries, mixing with thousands of British holiday makers, walkers, boaters and cyclists. A café boat was installed in 2017 and last year we opened new car parks to provide extra capacity during the peak summer months which has helped.

“The challenge for the future is how to offer people more on-site facilities which will mean they spend more time here, have a better experience and hopefully spend more money in the local economy.”