On the Swansea Canal at Clydach, a long-standing blockage will be removed after Swansea Council donated 120m of buried canal length to the Swansea Canal Society (SCS). The length had been infilled in 1973 and turned into a council road maintenance depot. The canal is encased in a pipe under concrete with the remains of a lock still visible through a metal grid.
In partnership with Glandwr Cymru (CRT in Wales), the society intends to restore both the lock and canal to full use. To this end, a channel bypassing the piped canal route has been dug which will take the canal water around the old route, thus allowing work to be undertaken in the dry on both lock and canal. The first phase of removing municipal buildings, which were built over the channel, and reinstating the towpath that is also part of Sustrans National Route 43, is now complete. The rest of the site has been securely fenced and a portable building has been moved for use as a site office for the restoration. Swansea Council has also donated stone, recovered from demolished walls elsewhere, for use in the lock restoration.
In the summer of 2020, between the two Covid-19 lockdowns, SCS added new plants to the wildlife garden in the site and built a retaining wall around it using the donated stone. A similar stone wall was built round the canoe store garden in Coed Gwilym Park. Near the canoe store, work continued to create access to the planned new slipway for the trip-boat. Three new towpath benches were also delivered in 2020 as part of the ‘Happy to Chat’ mental-health initiative.
Elsewhere on the canal, successive WRG summer camps are bringing the pairs of locks at Trebanos and Ynysmeudwy back towards navigability, although the planned 2020 summer camp had to be postponed.
Other SCS work parties have replaced rotting timbers at Clydach (Mond) Lock and are also reinforcing long stretches of towpath edge between Coed Gwilym Park and Trebanos. This is to augment the dredging work which was completed in February 2020 by CRT and Land & Water Services. It will allow a passenger trip-boat to work this mile-long section. The dredging work will also improve the existing canoe hire experience by removing any risk of grounding the boats.
At the lower end of the existing canal, the owner of Player’s Yard has adopted part of the canal and hopes to extend the canal by 100 yards into his land and down to the River Tawe.
The vision of joining up the Neath, Tennant and Swansea canals to form a 35-mile waterway is actively promoted by the Swansea Bay Inland Waterway Partnership which meets each quarter. Members from CRT, IWA, Natural Resources Wales, SCS and all interested stakeholders can attend the meetings which are currently held online.