Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Swansea Canal
  A busy start for the Swansea Canal  
  The Swansea Canal had 36 locks along its 15 mile (24km) length, and each lock could take a boat up to 69 feet (21m) long and 7 feet 6 inches (2.2m) wide.
No tunnels were needed, but there were several aqueducts the largest of which, with three arches, was at Ystalyfera. There are pictures of one of the smaller aqueducts on another of these pages.
For more about canal building, aqueducts, locks and wharves see our pages on
Brecon & Abergavenny Canal
Montgomery Canal

The canal
at Landore
near Swansea

This 1970s
shows the
River Tawe
with the canal
alongside in
the front of
the picture

Swansea Canal The canal was to become busy with boat traffic very soon after it opened in 1798. The first canal-side wharves and warehouses were built at the Swansea end, but more were to follow in many places along the length of the Tawe valley.
A traveller by the canal in 1801 wrote of "a busy scene the whole way...with immense coal wharves and barges constantly passing up and down through the different locks".
Photograph above is from the collection of the late
John Morris
of Ystradgynlais.

The 1970s photograph above is of an area south of the Powys and Breconshire boundary, but it is interesting because it shows the canal (foreground) passing through part of the industrial landscape of the Tawe valley.
The Swansea Canal and the River Tawe are very close together like this for much of the way, and the hills in the background show the scars of earlier mining and quarrying.
The waste ground in the middle in this view was once the site of heavy industry.

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