When Harry met the King


The coronation had us looking back to the time when Harry Machin met Prince Charles at the official re-opening of the Welshpool town lock back in 1974. 

Harry was involved in the campaign to reopen the Montgomery canal from the very beginning. Tim remembers standing in mud at the bottom of Welshpool town lock, helping to shovel mud into wheelbarrows. Harry had a broken leg at the time and was confined to the bank where he was in charge of operating the winch that lifted the barrows of mud out of the lock.

The restoration very nearly didn’t happen at all, as the Welsh minister at the time refused the offer of European funding, saying that the money could be better used elsewhere. 

In one of those coincidences that seems to come along at the right time, an equerry to Prince Charles happened to be on a train at the same time as one of the canal committee members. He spotted the Montgomery canal paperwork, thought the Prince might be interested, and the rest is history. 

Of course, Prince Charles was guest of honour at the official reopening of the town lock.  Here’s Harry in his sweater presenting the future King with a polished brass windlass. The opening ceremony was in 1974, but the inscription on the windlass was 1973 – when Price Charles commented on this Harry said “You’re a year late.”

One detail you won’t read in official accounts of the day is the wet paint on the lock beam which ended up on the Royal bottom! 

Harry Machin presents Prince Charles with a commemorative brass windlass at the official opening of the restored Welshpool town lock in 1974

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