Above: Canal restoration at Wellington Bridge, Llantarnam.
The success of the restoration of the Brec and Mon Canal south of Cwmbran is something from which we can all learn. A partnership of two local authorities, the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canal Trusts and Natural Resources Wales, it has already obtained Heritage Lottery Funding. It is about to apply for a further £5 million. It is a template that the Tennant, Neath and Swansea Canal Trusts are following. Together with Natural Resources Wales, the Tidal Lagoon project, the Swansea Community Boat Trust, the Canal and River Trust, and both the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Borough Councils we set up the Swansea Bay Inland Waterways Partnership two years ago. It is making slow but sure progress towards our vision to link our three canals through the Swansea Docks.
In order to see how far we have to go, 24 of our volunteers made the trip to the Waterways Canal Restoration Project at Ty Coch, Llantarnam, where the Brec and Mon Partnership is restoring a further 1.5 km of their canal.
We were met on the work site by Richard Domett, MBE, the project manager who has contributed significantly to the success of the partnership. He talked to us about the history of the restoration work there and showed us the steel modular lock gates made of Welsh Steel which are being fitted on the restored locks. They cost the same as traditional oak gates but will last 100 years, four times as long as oak gates. He stressed the need to use the restoration as a means of equipping young unemployed people with the necessary skills to obtain work for themselves.
We walked along the canal where volunteers were removing invasive water fern from the surface of the canal while others were painting the lock gates which are made to order in Symonds Yat and put together on site. We stopped for a photo underneath the lock gates.
Seeing the amazing work there has encouraged us to push on with our own project regardleas of the magnitude of it. As Richard said, take the journey one step at a time, don’t be discouraged by failure, patience and persistence will win in the end.