Adopt a mile – South West

Repairing towpaths and unearthing buried locks: we chat to the Swansea Canal Society about the work they do to help preserve their local stretch

Canal & River Trust


Tell us about your community group…
The Swansea Canal Society formed in 1981 when the canal was in great danger of disappearing completely under housing and roads. Five miles of the canal was saved when it was dredged by a pioneering band of volunteers. We currently have 130 members; on average around 20 volunteers attend our work parties every Tuesday.

What inspired you to take part in this ‘adopt a canal’ scheme?
Since it formed, the SCS has worked along the entire five-mile length of the canal, so when we heard of the Canal & River Trust’s ‘adopt a canal’ scheme, initially we asked if we could adopt it all. The Trust suggested that we work our way along the canal by adopting a different section each year. We’ve currently adopted the stretch between Clydach and Trebanos Locks – a distance of around two miles.

What’s it like?
The northern section from Coed Gwilym Park to Lower Trebanos Lock is a beautiful tree-lined route, loved by walkers and cyclists. We run a community canoe and kayak hire project at Coed Gwilym Park every Sunday in the summer, as well as on Tuesdays in the school holidays.

What’s your current list of tasks?
It’s quite a list, from repairing towpath erosion and demolishing derelict buildings to litter picking and promoting the Swansea Bay Inland Waterways Partnership, which aims to join up the Neath, Tennant and Swansea canals.

Any challenges or surprises?
Funding is the biggest challenge for us – our funding team is continually filling in complicated forms. We’re always surprised by the goodwill and support of our community, our volunteers, the Inland Waterways Association and the Canal & River Trust.

What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
Acquiring another 120 metres of the canal route, generously given to us by the City and County of Swansea. The section is piped underground but we intend to reinstate the towpath, uncover a buried lock and bring the water back to the surface – with the Canal & River Trust’s assistance, of course.

And plans for the future?
Our vision is to restore the canal so that boats as well as canoes can use it. To that end, we’re working with the Canal & River Trust to raise funds to dredge the canal to a depth and width for boats to pass through. We also hope to restore three locks and add hydroelectric turbines to one of the locks to create a revenue stream.

How can others get involved?
Come along to run of our volunteer work parties, which we run every Tuesday. For details of how to join us and to find out about our activities, visit our website

The Canal & River Trust is helping local groups around the country to adopt a stretch of waterway to benefit their community. To find out more and get involved visit