Pontymoile canal aqueduct

button-theme-canalPontymoile canal aqueduct, near Pontypool

pontypool_canal_aqueductNorth east of Pontymoile basin, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal crosses the Afon Lwyd on a stone aqueduct. The structure was rebuilt c.1811 – before the canal had opened to traffic – because a storm had come close to destroying it. To view it, follow the path from the towpath to the riverside. The weir below the aqueduct may have been built to reduce the risk of structural damage, by slowing the river’s flow.

The canal embankment north east of the aqueduct features three additional arches, which you can see by descending on another path from the towpath. If the river burst its banks, water would have flown through the arches rather than putting pressure on the embankment. The arches may have been installed when the aqueduct was rebuilt.

pontypool_bridge_rail_at_aqueductBeside the towpath at each end of the aqueduct are vertical iron fenceposts made from “bridge rail”, which resembles the Greek letter Ω (omega) in cross-section (see lower photo). Brunel used this type of rail, laid on wooden frames, for his broad-gauge Great Western Railway. The GWR eventually had to convert its tracks to Britain’s standard gauge and reused some of the bridge rail as fenceposts. Conversion was completed in South Wales in 1872. The GWR became owner of the canal in 1880.

Two short tunnels cut through the canal embankment beneath the basin (visible if you take the path which diverges at the south-west end of the basin). One tunnel was for the Pontypool Iron & Tin Plate Company’s railway which connected Lower Mill (south east of the canal basin) to the Osmond Forge in Pontnewynydd.

In 1875 a man was killed near the tunnel mouth as he walked along the “railroad”. A locomotive overtook him but the brake handle on one of the trailing coal wagons dragged him under the wheels.

The other tunnel under the canal accommodated the Lower Mill feeder. Water extracted from the river at Trosnant was channelled to the mill’s waterwheel. The mill featured iron forges in the 1870s. By the late 19th century Lower Mill was a “sheet works” with a neighbouring galvanising works, owned by Alfred Baldwin & Co. In 1899 the company was fined after nine boys (aged under 16) were found at work outside the permitted hours at Lower Mill Works.

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

With thanks to the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust

Postcode: NP4 8ES    View Location Map

Canal & River Trust website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal 

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