Pensioners restore historic canal
16th October 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
The Swansea Canal was once a key artery in South Wales and was used to transport heavy resources to the Swansea docks. Though steeply graded and reliant on over 30 locks, it was profitable for over a hundred years and helped the industrialisation of the area. Constructed around 1794, it was not until 1895 that it began to decline and the last commercial traffic on the waterway was as late as 1931.
Since then it has been subjected to a series of owners and parts have been filled in. Recently the canal has seen a new lease of life thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers. Though currently only focussing on a stretch between Clydach and Pontardawe, they are an ambitious team with hopes to eventually reach Swansea Docks.
The volunteers are mainly retired and with a vested interest in seeing a critical element of their local history restored. Though restoring a canal is hard work, there is an inclusive attitude among the volunteers that fosters community spirit. Gordon Walker is the foreman and a member of the Swansea Canal Society and he told Wales Online:
“The friendships you make are brilliant; I do tend to shout, I call them my slaves! We just have a big laugh and at 11am we have a break and we have volunteers who just make cakes for us.
“If you’re not up to any hard work, just pop along for a chat.”
Those who have limited mobility and need home stair lifts are more than welcome to support the cause with tea, cake and a chat or perhaps put the Swansea Canal Society in contact with others who would be keen to volunteer.
Many of those who volunteer enjoy the camaraderie despite the hard work and Welsh weather, especially as they see cyclists, walkers and canoeists enjoying the fruits of their labour.
Image Credit: Clint Budd