THOUSANDS of people are expected to explore a small part of Gwent’s role in the industrial revolution with a new canal trip.

Islwyn Canal Association will launch its new boat the Islwyn Lilly on the Crumlin arm of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal from March - and are hopeful the trip will attract over 500 people per month.

Chairman Richard Whysom said the success of other parts of the canal, such as the Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre, shows the massive potential.

His association have spent the last 12 years trying to re-open parts of the Crumlin arm, which has been unused since boats transported bricks, steel, iron and coal from the area to Newport docks and then to help fire the industrial revolution.

But, after grants totalling £16,500 allowed them to buy the boat and Caerphilly council dredged the canal, they are almost ready to open a two-mile stretch to Pontywaun.

The boat was named by local schoolchildren and can hold ten people plus two crew for the 45-minute round trip.

Mr Whysom said it will take anyone who turns up on weekends, but trips will be by booking only on weekdays, adding: "The amount of interest suggests it will be very, very busy.

"I’m hoping for a minimum of 500 people per month, but with Caerphilly council helping us with the publicity, it could be more."

The operation will be run by volunteers and the association still needs planning permission for a landing jetty before it can rubber stamp March’s launch, but Mr Whysom is confident things will be ready.

He described it as "some of the most beautiful canal and countryside in the world" and said the trips are likely to cost between £3 and £3.50.

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