This November, Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, begins a schedule of winter works to repair and restore historic waterway structures including locks, bridges and tunnels across Wales.
The works are part of our wider five-month, £45 million programme of essential work of repair, restoration and routine maintenance to the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers it looks after across England and Wales. This winter a series of projects totalling around £230,000 will be taking place on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal in South Wales and the Llangollen Canal in North Wales.
Mark Lang, Chairman of Glandŵr Cymru, says: “Our canals contribute around £30m each year to the economy and wellbeing of Wales, but they require considerable skill and investment to keep them in good working order. Every day thousands of people visit or cruise on Wales' wonderful waterways without ever seeing all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and below the waterline, to look after this historic and remarkable infrastructure.
"By showcasing this work to the public we can give them a glimpse of the craftsmanship of the waterways’ original 18th Century design and the scale of the work we do to care for it. We hope this will inspire more people to get involved to enjoy and help support their local canal.”
Several sections of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal will be drained to allow our specialist engineers to carry out a detailed inspection of the concrete lining along the base of the canal, which was originally laid in 1976 as part of the restoration works to reopen the canal. They will be checking the joints of the canal bed, and assessing areas of vulnerability so they can plan future repairs to prevent leakages. Whilst the canal is drained, a utilities pipe will also be laid underneath the canal.
Ahead of the works the team will dam off sections of the canal with timber stop planks, and carefully rescue and relocate fish before completely draining the channel.
Glandŵr Cymru’s, national ecologist, Mark Robinson explains: “It's very important to us that we minimise the impact on wildlife whenever we have to drain a canal, and carry out all the necessary environmental assessments beforehand. In this instance the best thing to do for the fish is to move them upstream to a different stretch of canal. We employ a specialist fish rescue team to do this, and by doing the work in winter, we aren’t interrupting any breeding seasons.
“It’s also a great opportunity to see the variety of fish in the area, and I’m hoping that we will see perch, roach and maybe even some pike.”
A new lock ladder and repairs to the mortar joints will be undertaken at lock 69, Brynich, whilst at lock 65, Llangynidr, a new 1.2 ton lock gate will be fitted, replacing the current gate that’s been in action for the past 30 years.
Visitors will be given the rare opportunity to venture onto the works site at Llangynidr on January 11th 2014, and get a behind-the-scenes, close-up view of the specialist skilled works Glandŵr Cymru undertake to care for the nation’s industrial heritage.
In January, on the Llangollen Canal, a special inspection of Chirk Tunnel will be undertaken; Denbighshire County Council will be carrying out repairs to Siambra-Wen Bridge near Llangollen and handrails crossing the iconic, world heritage site, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, will be repaired.