Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

'Cool' as boy pulls aqueduct plug

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Schoolboy David Halligan: "Something to tell my grandchildren"

A 10-year-old boy has pulled the plug on an historic aqueduct, releasing 1.5m litres of water.

David Halligan won a contest to drain the 204-year-old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, near Wrexham, for a routine inspection.

The waterway, which recently won world heritage status, carries the Llangollen Canal above the Dee Valley.

It will take a day to drain, and David, of Ysgol Bryn Collen primary School, in Llangollen, Denbighshire, called his prize "cool".

He added: "It's very cool actually because you don't get to do this every day.

"It's absolutely amazing to be honest because all this water gets cleaned every 10 years.

"I'm going to be 20, maybe have a few kids, and I'm going to go 'do you know on the news, draining that aqueduct? I did that once, 10 years ago'."

David used a rope attached to a lever to pull the plug, and added: "It wasn't as heavy as I expected."

The 1,000 ft (305m)-long structure attracts about 250,000 visitors a year by boat or on foot.

Designed by Thomas Telford and built between 1795 and 1805, the structure was awarded world heritage status in June by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The world heritage listing puts the aqueduct among 900 sites under Unesco protection around the world, including Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

It was last drained in November 2003, ahead of its 200th birthday celebrations in 2005.

Then, it received a new coat of paint to prevent the metal framework from rust, and the towpath was refurbished.

It will be 10 years before the next planned inspection.

Howard Griffiths, of British Waterways, which maintains the canal, said: "Every 10 years, for an aqueduct such as this, or a major tunnel, we have a principal inspection.

"We de-water it, make sure all the joints are good, and the stonework - make sure it's safe to use for another 10 years."

It is expected to take about three hours to refill the aqueduct on Friday.



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