The Monmouthshire Canal
The Monmouthshire Canal was granted its Act in 1792 and by 1796 eleven miles from Pontnewynydd to Newport were complete. The eleven mile Crumlin Arm from Crindau Junction to Crumlin was fully open by 1799. The canal was built to carry coal and iron to Newport and it led to a rapid expansion of the town and the riverside wharfs.
Tramroads were feeders to the Canal from the more mountainous areas such as Blaenafon but became direct routes to Newport in the Western Valley. Tramroads gradually became more important than the Canal and by 1848 the Company had become the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company. It bought out the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal in 1865 and by the time the GWR took over the day-to-day running in 1 875 the Canal was of little commercial importance except for the supply of water to Newport Docks.
Bridge 47 – Solomons Bridge – is the southern limit of British Waterways ownership. The remainder of the Monmouthshire Canal is now owned by Torfaen Borough, Newport City or Caerphilly Borough Councils.
The Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal
The Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal received its act in 1793. It was open from Gllwern to Brecon by the end of 1800 and to Govilon by 1804 but not until 1812 did it finally loin the Monmouthshire Canal at Pontymoile near Pontypool and so provide a through route to Newport and its river wharfs.
A short length in Brecon is lost under the road but the rest of the B & A is navigable for 33 miles and with its peace and glorious views is a real gem.
Tram Roads were feeders to the Canal rather than a competitor but the loss of the iron trade to more coastal works and the coal trade to the railways led to the inevitable decline and most traffic had ceased by 1930.
In the late 1950s the leisure potential was realised. A weekly hire firm started in 1961 though rowing boats and canoes had been used since the early 1800s. Now there are over 400 privately owned boats and over 40 hire boats operating on that stretch of canal from Brecon to Pontnewydd.