News article created on 29 November 2019

Digging deep to regenerate historic Swansea Canal

Work to regenerate the historic Swansea Canal continues this month with a key element, the dredging of almost a mile of the waterway between Coed Gwilym Park in Clydach and Trebanos.

Swansea Canal, by Alan Richards Swansea Canal, by Alan Richards

We are carrying out the dredging, scheduled to be completed in mid-January, together with the Swansea Canal Society.

More than 6,700 cubic metres of silt is being removed from the channel – the equivalent of over 8,300 bath tubs full of water. This will open up the canal, enabling Swansea Canal Society to operate a trip boat and also improve the canoeing sessions that they already offer.

Conservation repairs

The dredging is the part of programme of conservation repairs by Swansea Canal Society. Volunteers will renovate the historic structures along the waterway, reinforce banks and undertake other tasks including work to protect the biodiversity of the canal corridor.

As part of a ten-year vision to establish the Swansea Canal as a premier heritage, visitor and leisure destination, it is estimated that the project could help to generate up to £500,000 for the visitor economy each year across the region.

Heritage, visitor and leisure destination

Research from Glandŵr Cymru shows that, as well as the health benefits offered by walking, running or cycling on the towpath, simply spending time by the water can help people feel happier and improve their life satisfaction. With 80 percent of Trebanos residents living within 400m of the canal and almost 16,000 people already using the towpath each year there is potential for Swansea Canal to play an even greater role in helping people improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

The project is costing around £380k which includes funding totalling over £256,000 secured earlier this year from the Rural Community Development Funding (RCDF) with the support of the Rural Development Programme teams in Neath Port Talbot Council and Swansea Council. Additional funding has come from the Swansea Canal Society, from the Welsh Government Landfills Disposal Tax Community Scheme

RCDF is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

Massive potential

Director Jon Horsfall commented, “The dredging is the first important step in unlocking the massive potential of this special stretch of water. Bringing a canal back into full use can offer huge benefits to local economies, not to mention the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors – by boat, on foot or bike. And there will be other benefits too – from learning opportunities for all ages and interests. We’re delighted to be getting this first phase underway and thank our partners on this exciting project, in particular the Swansea Canal Society whose hard work and enthusiasm have kept the canal open for everyone to use and enjoy.”

The Swansea Canal was opened in 1796, and the whole length of 16 and a half miles was completed by 1798. Today only five miles of the canal is still in water, from Clydach to Pontardawe and from Pontardawe to Ynysmeudwy. For the third year running, the Swansea Canal has been awarded a Green Flag in the Keep Britain Tidy Award Scheme, and it offers a green walking and cycling route, nestled at the bottom of the steep-sided Swansea Valley.