Ashford canal tunnel, Talybont-on-Usk

button-theme-canalAshford canal tunnel, Talybont-on-Usk

This is one of two tunnels on the main navigable section of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. It is the longer of the two, being 343 metres long and c.3.6 metres wide with no towing path.

The horses which hauled boats along the canal were detached before the tunnel and led over ground to the far end. To propel a boat through the tunnel, men would lie on planks and use their feet to push on the tunnel walls, a technique known as “legging”. Some boats were poled through.

There is one shaft – a vertical hole from the tunnel roof to the surface. It originally gave access to the tunnel excavations, becoming a ventilation shaft when the work had finished. The shaft is only 7.5 metres deep. It may have been the unstable ground that made an expensive tunnel necessary. The southern end was tunnelled and the northern end used the “cut and cover” method, following a landslip during the tunnelling work.

The tunnel roof dips part way through, leaving only a few centimetres of headroom above the top of today's boats.

The other tunnel is at Pontnewydd, Cwmbrȃn, and is c.79 metres long with only c.8 metres of ground above the tunnel. If the canal was of a later date, a cutting may well have been used. Again no towing path was provided.

There is also a tunnel on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal at Brynglas, Newport, at the end of a short isolated navigable section. This is even shorter, at 73 metres, and no towing path was provided.

The navigable section of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is looked after by the charity Glandwr Cymru the Canal & River Trust in Wales.

With thanks to the archive of the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust

Canal & River Trust website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

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