It was another return to the lower Trebanos lock for our doughty volunteers today, making the most of access to the lock chamber whilst the scaffolding is still in place. With plenty of lime mortar to hand, thanks to the top mixing team of Gareth and John G, Gordon and Alan T continued to rebuild stonework at the lower end of each lock wall, up to and including the top level capping stones. The two largest we’ve moved so far were repositioned, bedded-in and pointed, and didn’t they look good afterwards?

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With almost all of the lock walls now rebuilt and repointed, major tasks in the chamber are nearing completion. Chris B did a good job wire-brushing and cleaning up some of the joints where mortar has spilled onto the block faces, to reveal the final finish. John Grav and Chris M dug out and cleared space for the remaining row of blocks on the island side, which we will hopefully complete next time.

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Elsewhere Martin D and Alan W cleared fallen branches and pruned willow from the off-bank between the upper and lower locks, and Toby took out thicker boughs further upstream.

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11am was teatime as usual, when we enjoyed our regular chit-chat and a selection of lovely cakes baked for us by Margaret G.

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The apparent absence of our lady volunteers at teatime is easily explained. Gill T had arranged a separate working party for them (herself, Ronnie, Sharon, Chris, Helen and Kath) to clear the overgrown stretch of towpath and surrounding area between Coed Gwilym Park and the Mond. The results of their much-needed hard work was a great improvement.

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We were delighted to welcome several Canal and River Trust staff to the lower Trebanos lock today to coincide with our annual Health and Safety check. Some like Cassie Ward, Mark Prosser and David Morgan are old friends, but new faces included Steve Manzi who is our new Volunteer Development Co-ordinator. It was his first visit to the Swansea Canal and the warm sunny weather showed off the canal in all its autumn glory. The photo shows Steve (left), Cassie (our Volunteer Development Coordinator in 2015) and Mark, the Team Leader (right) at the lock before they left. We thank them, and David Morgan, of course, for all for the vital work they have done for canals in Wales and the South West.

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Another new face to our volunteer ranks is Chris Bowen, who lives in Ynystawe, and provides pictures and text for a variety of local news media. He was one of the few photographers to document Prince William’s visit to the St Thomas’s area in Swansea a couple of weeks ago. He says he was in the shower after his first day with the Swansea Canal Society when he was tipped off that the Prince of Wales was in town. This is obviously just the change of luck you get when you volunteer on our lovely canal! We look forward to seeing a lot more of Chris in the coming months.

We intend the main group of volunteers will return to Trebanos next week to complete the final lock chamber tasks, but there are many other jobs also demanding our attention. The benefits of splitting the work-party will be further explored to see if our volunteer time and effort can be more effectively utilised.