Heavy rain once again disrupted plans for this morning’s work party at Coed Gwilym Park. Storms were promised, and they came! The Sunday Squad of Alan T, Steve H, Mike F, John Grav and Pete A nonetheless turned out, but quickly decided that only one of our planned tasks was viable.

The roof scaffolding was still in place, so painting the few remaining cream areas in the new blue colour was not possible. Our second option, rubbing down and painting the railings alongside the slipway was also discounted – soggy sandpaper is not very effective on the rust and repainting in the rain was definitely not worth trying.

That left cleaning the obelisk which commemorates aspects of the Swansea Canal’s history. Mike F sprayed the cleaning solution and the group retired to the shelter of the canoe store to give it time to work.

When we emerged during a lull in the storms, we set to work with a scrubbing brush each and immediately some areas of mould and algae were reduced or removed. The front face of the structure was our main focus where Steve tackled the engraved stone plaque and John the surrounding blocks. Pete tried cleaning a sign on one side and that came up much better too. Overall, there was a distinct improvement.

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The rain never really stopped, but that didn’t put us off until we broke for coffee at 11am and decided enough was enough. The full impact of our cleaning efforts won’t be obvious until there is a dry day, but with so much mildew removed we are confident of an improvement.

On the downside, the canoe store was inexplicitly in disarray when Mike opened up, with tools and equipment strewn all over the floor. It quickly became apparent that the building had been flooded sometime in the last few days, as the floor was covered in a layer of mud! This was confirmed when we found a tidemark about 30cm up on the inside of the doors! Although it appears no significant damage has been done by the deluge, a good clean-up is now needed. Alan cleared the partially blocked drain and gulley outside in the hope of preventing a recurrence.

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Ironically the weather cleared up soon after we left, but we had made the effort and hopefully made a difference to the stonework, which is such a visible illustration of the canal’s heritage.