ONE DAY IN THE LIFE: SWANSEA CANAL SOCIETY, 3RD JULY 2018
IT IS 9.15 AM . The sun, as it has been for the last ten days, is beating down ferociously. Our work party is based in the Clydach Buried Lock site in Pontardawe Road. However, electricians from Swansea Council are to make repairs to the canoe store electrics furtther upstream so Gill Thomas,our indefatigable canoe organiser, has to open up the canoe store for them. Gwyn Evans from the Friends of Clydach Heritage Centre has to be there too as our two buildings are inextricably and electrically twinned. Gwyn has overslept and arrives at speed unusually dishevelled. Gill opens up the canoe store, Gwyn opens up the Clydach Heritage Centre. The big white City of Swansea Van arrives. We leave the two bright Sparks to the mysteries of conduit boxes and Residual Current Breakers with Overload protection. Somewhere in this picture is our Switched Fused Connection Unit, and possibly, a Fused spur. Our community canoe hire project has had its most succesful summer in its five year history. Now, there will be no need to rage against the dying of the light for a further five.
Gill and I make our way down the towpath towards the main work party. From the mains to the main, you might say. Halfway down the path we meet an old friend from the Canal and River Trust. It is Paul Robinson, the Contracts manager. He brings us good news. The build up of that pink red frothy weed, zolla, I think it is called, and the Canadian Pond weed and the green slime at the end of the canal, and the invasive American reeds are to be dealt with by the CRT contractors. In the next couple of weeks! I have, unfortunately, grown quite fond of the zolla. I took a photo of the effect it has on the canal.
Paul tells me that there is a weevil that can eat it. This is more good news ecologically, though I did think it looked almost good enough to eat when I took the photo.
Here is Paul with his box of tricks that measures how much Japanese Knot Weed we have on the canal. Not so much as the last time he was here, he says. And the rolling programmes of spraying will continue in September. One day we will no longer be the UK Capital of JKN. Thanks in no small part to Paul and his men.
It is gone ten. I have not picked up a drag fork in anger yet. We reach the work site. Almost. A few yards short of the buried lock site I meet Colin Twells. He is dragging out from the canal the ever increasing swathes of Canadian Pond weed with an Aspen Rake that buckles under the weight of wet weed. I give him a precis of Paul Gibson’s news. He, more than most, is pleased to hear that something is to be done about the weeds and reeds and slime choking the canal channel. For Colin is the Player’s Industrial Estate Manager whose boundary abuts our own at the southern end of the canal. Here is what it looks like at present.
Not a great sight, is it? Colin has recently joined our Society and is keen to improve the visual impact of the canal next to his ‘manor’. He wants to see a partnership of the Canal and River Trust, the Swansea Canal Society and Player’s Industrial Estate transform the whole area. We support those aims. Here he is (centre) with Kevin Philips and Jade Hester from the Canal and River Trust whom he met a little later to discuss this hoped for transformation.
I leave the three of them and get a snap of Sue throwing her drag line into the Canadian Pond Weed She personifies the effort that all our volunters put in each and every week to make our canal an amenity to be proud of. Please note the piles of weed already extracted. They must remain on the side of the canal for a few days to allow the Aquatic creatures time to crawl back into the canal.
At last I reach the work site. This is what it looks like. Not too prepossesing, maybe, but we have dreams, and the new towpath along the left hand side is the first sign of that dream becoming a tarmac reality. Apart from one man and his dog in this library picture, workers are conspicuous by their absence but if we were to zoom in to the little site office at the top of the picture we would find them working happily away.
What on earth are they up to? This, I am told, is the framework for a very necessary tool store. We can no longer expect the owner of the section of the yard which is to be developed for housing to give us storage space on what is now a demolition site. So we must build our store. We floated all the timbers used down the canal from Coed Gwilym Park and are reusing them for this timber framed lean-to store.
Though our part of the site looks bare and urban without much greenerys on show we have begun to plant where we can. I took these photos of some drumsick alliums we planted bursting into flower. A token gesture perhaps but one day this site will be a green and blue ‘must visit’ destination of moored boats and wild life. The Swansea Canal deserves it, and the community deserves it.