TEAM EFFORT AT TREBANOS LOCK
The first WRG Summer camp on the Swansea Canal worked at Lower Trebanos Lock in 2013. They were the catalysts for our society’s continuing restoration there and they have been back every year since.
This is what the wing wall and off side looked like in 2013
This is what it looks like in December 2015.
It has been a team effort. The Swansea Canal Society has no more than 150 members. Yet ten to twenty of us work every Tuesday come rain or snow and each July the WRG has returned and brought with them their expertise and their enthusiasm. The Canal and River Trust who own the canal have provided the materials and taught us the craft of laying walls and repointing with lime mortar. We have involved the community. Staff of Virgin Media and Lloyds Bank have carted barrow loads of the local Blue Pennant Sandstone to the lock, the Swansea University Conservation Society have repointed the pound wall and the carers and clients of the Whitethorns Day Care Centre have been an ever present source of support and enthusiastic help. The owner of the Green Farm Riding Stables next to the lock has allow us to leave our own and the WRG heavy plant in their grounds. Slowly but surely we have all moved forward together.
The most contentious aspect of the restoration has been getting access to the lock chamber in order to repoint it. It is an obvious health and safety issue and there have been times when failure to sign off the safety of the stop planks have caused frustration and delays. This can be extremely galling if you are WRG volunteers and have only five days on site. Somehow we all came through some fractious times and the lower lock chamber has now been completely repointed apart from the five or six upper course where scaffolding will be needed next July for the WRG volunteers to finish it off.
Apart from the lock itself we have been mindful of leaving the residents who live on the canal side some improvements to their immediate environment. The unadopted road which acts as both a tow path and access to the properties and the riding school has very poor run off and in times of heavy rainfall the excess has run back into the properties’ gardens instead of running into the canal. When we built the 50 yard retaining wall below the towpath we included steps down to the canal complete with a drainage channel which take the excess rain down into the canal. This has meant that the residents have a very high tolerance level whenever we get stone dust on their cars!
Thanks to a grant from the Welsh Government we now have our own cement mixer. The sand and lime has always been provided by CRT. The trailers to take all the material and tools from the CRT depot in nearby Clydach to the site a mile and half away were again generous gifts from our local Co-op supermarket.
We are a small society, our canal is not yet linked to either the Neath or the Tennant Canal and it has just five miles in water but Team Trebanos has shown show what can be done. One day that spirit will get the Swansea Canal back another nine miles into the centre of Swansea.