Funding of over £320,000 has been confirmed to regenerate the historic Swansea Canal into a major visitor destination.

The Rural Community Development Funding (RCDF) was secured by Glandŵr Cymru – the Canal & River Trust in Wales – the charity that cares for the canal, together with the Swansea Canal Society and with the support of Swansea Council and Neath Port Talbot Council.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We were delighted to help the Glandŵr Cymru with this funding application.

“Swansea is undergoing major regeneration – and projects such as making the Swansea Canal more accessible will have an important role to play in the area’s future success.”

Central to the project will be the dredging of almost a mile of the canal, between Coed Gwilym Park in Clydach and Trebanos, due to start this autumn.

More than 6,700 cubic metres of silt will be removed – the equivalent of more than 8,300 bathtubs. It will enable Swansea Canal Society to operate a trip boat, in addition to improving the canoeing sessions that they already offer.

The project will also deliver a programme of conservation repairs. Volunteers will renovate the historic structures, reinforce banks and undertake other tasks including work to protect biodiversity.

The funding is the first part of a 10-year vision to establish the canal as a premier heritage, visitor and leisure destination. It is estimated that the project could help to generate up to £500,000 for the visitor economy each year across the region.

Glandŵr Cymru director Richard Thomas said: “It’s hugely exciting to see what impact further improving the Swansea Canal can have for the Swansea Valley and surrounding area. When we can bring a canal back into use it can have huge benefits to local economies, as well as creating new opportunities for people to exercise and learn skills.”

Swansea Canal Society chair Gordon Walker said: “It is excellent news that all the hard work by Swansea Canal Society volunteers has been recognised with this RCDF grant. The work will directly benefit the community and the local economy.”

RCDF is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The Swansea Canal was opened in 1796, and the whole length of 16.5 miles was completed by 1798. Today only five miles of the canal is still in water, from Clydach to Pontardawe and from Pontardawe to Ynysmeudwy.

Swansea Council