Community support

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

Constructed 1794-1798 by the Swansea Canal Navigation Company, the Swansea Canal was 16 miles in length and rose 375 feet through 36 locks from sea level at Swansea up the valley to Abercraf.

Much of the canal has been lost to modern development although significant features remain. Many of its bridges, aqueducts and locks are listed buildings or scheduled ancient monuments and part of the Swansea valley’s unique heritage. The remaining six miles in water are the home to otters and bats; kingfishers, dippers and ducks; moths, butterflies and beetles. The in-water canal runs from Clydach to Ynysmeudwy with good paths all the way from the aqueduct in Clydach to the Nature Reserve north of Ynysmeudwy. There is a buried lock in Clydach and a short break between Trebanos and Pontardawe where the canal disappears into a pipe but the path continues along this section. SUSTRANS Cycle Route 43 follows the towpath between Clydach and Trebanos. The canal’s mainly rural setting gives pleasure to walkers, cyclists, joggers, runners and canoeists alike. This has been recognised by the award of the Keep Wales Tidy Green Flag for the last two years: [http://www.keepwalestidy.org/greenflag/parks/216-swansea-canal].

The Swansea Canal Society was formed in 1981. We became a registered charity in 2004 and modified the charitable status in 2016 to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The Society is run by volunteers. We feel privileged to encourage volunteers with special needs, including the clients of Whitethorns Intensive Day Service [Crown Street, Morriston, Swansea SA6 8BR]. In recent years we have welcomed working parties from the Waterway Recovery Group that have been particularly active in supporting our efforts to restore Trebanos Lower Lock. We also host volunteer work parties from commercial organisations such as Virgin Media, Marks and Spencers and Lloyds Bank.

The aims of the Society are:

 1. To promote the heritage and history of the canal.
 2. To protect its wildlife
 3. To restore the canal to navigable standards
 4. To improve the canal environment for the health and benefit of all visitors.

This project will start a ten year plan to regenerate the historic Swansea Canal as a premier heritage destination and water-based activity centre.

Funds are being sought here and from other bodies, particularly the Rural Communities Development Fund, to deliver a major project to make navigable both of the remaining in-water sections of the canal. The southern section runs from Clydach to Trebanos and the northern section from Pontardawe to Ynysmeudwy. The canal is owned by the Canal and River Trust (CRT) so detailed discussions are ongoing between it and the Swansea Canal Society. We have the full support of CRT in this endeavour and welcome the expert advice provided by CRT.

Should funding become available, approved contractors will dredge the waterway under the direction of CRT staff and the spoil will be removed to registered sites suitable for the disposal of potentially contaminated material. Studies performed by Swansea University have shown that heavy metal pollution is minimal but Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam grow on the canal banks. These species are invasive so their seeds present a potential biohazard.

Historic structures will be renovated by the Society's volunteers, again supported by CRT staff, using traditional craft skills. For example, we have become proficient in repairing/restoring the stone-built structures using lime mortar.

Making the canal navigable once more will allow us to move forward with our ten year plan. Immediately we will be able to extend our existing canoe hire programme that currently is operated over a relatively short stretch of the southern section. The next phase, to develop leisure activities including a trip boat, disabled angling, trail boats and high-end interpretation, will raise the profile of the rural wards as a top tourist destination.

Swansea Canal Society

Moment of Pride

The Swansea Canal was in its day the major route of transport and of huge industrial importance throughout the world. We now have a linear water park that we should all be proud of and the Society's band of willing volunteers is dedicated to improving that amenity for everyone’s benefit.

Location: Swansea Canal, Clydach, United Kingdom