CAMPAIGNERS took to the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal to celebrate the long-awaited re-opening of the canal.

For three years, the canal at Bevan’s Bridge has been unnavigable, with rubble from a new housing development on the banks of the canal making it too shallow for boats to pass.

The Bridge 46 to Five Locks group was set up to raise awareness of that section of the canal and campaign to see it returned to full navigation from Brecon to Five Locks, and on Saturday, the group led a flotilla down the water to celebrate this long-awaited landmark.


“It’s absolutely fantastic when you consider we have been waiting for this moment for three years, waiting for the work to finish at Bridge 46,” said Mark Sullivan, one of the group’s admins.

“Today marks the official opening of Bridge 46.

“We have had good representation from the boaters coming to support us and we have attracted around 2,800 members to our Facebook group.

“To go from the seven admins 18 months ago to that – it’s amazing.

“I think it goes to show that people do care about the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.”

South Wales Argus: Elidor on the waters of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.Elidor on the waters of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Around 10 boats set off from Pontymoile Basin, heading down the canal to Five Locks, before turning back and cruising to the Open Hearth pub on the banks of the canal at Sebastopol.

The group recently restored a former waterways tradition, housing a Boater’s Signing Book at the Open Hearth.

Mr Sullivan said that restoring the canal to its former glory would be beneficial for everyone in the borough.

South Wales Argus: The captain of 'Eternity' navigating down the canal.The captain of 'Eternity' navigating down the canal.

“It’s a win-win, as it encourages people on to the water, and encourages tourism in the area.

“Over the last six to eight months we’ve seen a big push from Torfaen County Borough Council which has sent a clear message that they are taking the canal seriously. That’s shown by the appointment of the canal co-ordinator who we are hoping to work with closely.”

The leader of Torfaen council Cllr Anthony Hunt praised the work of the Bridge 46 to Five Locks group in campaigning to restore the canal to its former glory.

South Wales Argus: Scooby-Doo waves to the crowds on the bank of the canal.Scooby-Doo waves to the crowds on the bank of the canal.

“They have been fantastic, the enthusiasm they have for the canal and improving it has made a huge difference,” he said.

“There’s much more recognition from the council of the canal – it’s a huge asset for the borough and I think we should do what we can to make the most of that.

“We have a long way to go but it is an important step along the road.”

South Wales Argus: One of the boats flying the Jolly Roger on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.One of the boats flying the Jolly Roger on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Cllr Hunt also spoke about the recent appointment of a canal co-ordinator, and the role they will play going forward.

“I think that’s going to be a key post,” he said. “We will work with them and help them tap into the council’s resources and see what they can do to bring in funding from elsewhere as well as working with the volunteers.

“It’s difficult for councils – for every £10 we get, we have £200 of things we could spend it on. The canal co-ordinator is our way of making sure the canal is not overlooked.”