Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 10:05 UK
Canal near Newport restored ready for festival
Volunteers work on a lock wall
Canal camps have given volunteers new skills

Volunteers have restored a section of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in time for a national waterways festival.

Work to reopen the Bettws Lane and Ty Ffynnon Locks in Newport which began in 2008 has now been completed.

Visitors can now travel by boat more than two miles (3.2km) through four working locks, with some stretches open for the first time in 75 years.

The Welsh Waterways Festival takes place at Kimberley Park, Malpas, Newport from 29 to 31 May.

The canal is now open to navigation from Pentre Lane in Cwmbran on its main line, via Barrack Hill in Newport and up to Waen Lock at Allt-yr-yn on the Crumlin arm of the canal.

The restoration work was undertaken by volunteers from the local community through employment provider A4e, members of Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust (MBACT) and by the Waterway Recovery Group during their work camps.

They put in slipways and mooring posts, as well as learning "heritage skills" to re-point lock walls with lime mortar.

MBACT spokesman Goff Barker said the next challenge was to reopen the canal through Cwmbran.

Ty Ffynnon lock
Ty Ffynnon lock has been restored in time for the festival

"We have now reached Pentre Lane at Llantarnam where the canal disappears into a culvert under the lane," he said.

"Work will start soon on the next lock - Draper's Lock - and we will work our way up towards Cwmbran and eventually to Pontnewydd from where the canal is open to Brecon.

"The section through Cwmbran town will not be for volunteers!"

Restoration work is also in progress at the Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks near High Cross, Newport, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Four of the locks are being fully restored by contractors under a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

They have been cleaning and pointing all the stonework, constructing and fitting new gates, and restoring ponds and pounds to full working order.

Work began in March and is due to be completed in September.

The canal dates back to the 1790s, with the Monmouthshire stretch reaching into Newport, linking the canal system with 200 miles (332km) of horse-drawn tram roads to carry coal, iron and limestone.

But by 1910, trade had virtually ceased on the canal.

In the 1950s a campaign was launched to restore the waterway, and in 1970 the canal from Brecon to Pontymoile was reopened.

The canal is now entirely navigable for 35 miles (56km) between Brecon and Five Locks at Cwmbran, in addition to the two mile section around Newport.

Volunteers unlock canal heritage
19 Jul 09 |  Wales
In Pictures: One day we'll reach Newport
30 Jun 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Repaired canal officially opens
29 Mar 09 |  Wales
Waterway reopens after 60 years
05 Jun 05 |  South east


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