A NEW boat is set to explore a small part of Gwent’s role in the industrial revolution as well as showcasing "some of the most beautiful countryside in the world".

The Islwyn Canal Association launched its new boat, the Islwyn Lilly, on the Crumlin arm of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal yesterday, which journeyed on a two-mile stretch to Pontywaun.

With the huge success of other stretches of the canal and tens of thousands of people flocking to areas such as the Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre, the Islwyn Canal Association has spent 12 years trying to re-open parts of the Crumlin arm.

It 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..

Caerphilly council has dredged the route and with the aid of a grants totalling £16,500, Islwyn Canal Association bought the Islwyn Lilly- named by local schoolchildren, which can hold ten people plus two crew.

Chairman of the canal association, Richard Wysom said while it took local dignitaries on the route on Saturday as a first voyage, it will make a second trip with Santa Claus over Christmas.

He said: "We are hoping that from next March onwards, we can start running the 45-minute journeys regularly, that takes passengers two miles to Pontywaun and then back again.

"It is some of the most beautiful canal and countryside in the world, with stunning woodland views. It is also the route taken by barges during the industrial revolution, with bricks, steel and iron transported all over the world."