More than 300 people from across the Swansea Valley turned out on Saturday 18 November to mark the 225th anniversary celebrations of the Swansea Canal with a special ‘Lighting up the Canal’ lantern parade at Coed Gwilym Park in Clydach.
Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, and Swansea Canal Society had been working with the local community towards a winter finale of celebrations for the anniversary year.
The procession saw over one hundred lanterns made by the public light up the canal after they’d spent time working with Vivian Rhule and other local artists from the area at a series of free workshops to create their designs. Pembrokeshire-based community arts company ‘spacetocreate’ also designed life size animal lanterns of a horse, swan and otter to feature in the event.
The one-off spectacle was one of several celebrations marking the anniversary which have been made possible throughout the year thanks to funding support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.
Once a valuable transport route that provided water and power for trade and industry, the Swansea Canal ran for 16 miles and was built to serve collieries, iron works and copper works in the Tawe Valley. Today it’s a walking and cycling route with five miles currently fully navigable by boats. Glandŵr Cymru works with the Swansea Canal Society who are striving towards the full restoration of the remaining sections of the canal.
David Morgan, development manager for Wales at Glandŵr Cymru, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people come out to their local canal to take part in the event. It was brilliant to see the canal lit up and being celebrated in this way to mark its 225th anniversary.
“It is a good example of the impact our canals have on the communities they run through and why it’s so important that we act now to keep canals alive for future generations.”
Sharon Blackford, from Swansea Canal Society, said: “The evening has been one of the highlights of our anniversary celebrations. We’ve worked with local people and artists to ensure this event could happen and it’s fantastic to have the local community involved in a special occasion to mark this milestone in the canal’s history.”
Throughout 2023 Glandŵr Cymru and the Swansea Canal Society have celebrated the anniversary with various events including an exhibition showcasing the canal at the National Waterfront Museum Swansea, a canoe paddle challenge on the canal, a film project with local primary schools and heritage talks at locations along the former line of the canal from Abercraf to Swansea.