The Crumlin Arm by Finley Chivers.
Saturday 26th August - Saturday September 30th
opening times Wednesday - Saturday 10am - 4pm
The Crumlin Arm is a stretch of canal from Crumlin to Newport. The project explores how a canal built for industry, went on to live a life of leisure. Looking at how people use the space and how the environment has evolved to suit its new purpose.
Construction of The Crumlin Arm canal started in the late 1700s. It took near on a decade to fully complete. Lots of Irish navies were employed during this time. They weren't paid a lot and the job was hard and dangerous.
The canal was created to bring goods from the valleys into Newport docks. At first the majority of the tonnage was coal or iron. A general cargo boat ran twice a week. Bricks from Alltyryn brick works were a later addition. Between 1800 and 1810 the population of Newport doubled and tens of thousand of tons were being exported each year. By the early 1800s the canal had peaked and was now mainly dealing with agricultural and domestic goods.
The canal lived a short life as the tram road and railway network took over. Although a master piece of engineering for its day, The Crumlin Arm proved to be less efficient than first thought. It would take around a day to get from 14 locks basin to the docks in Newport. Even before the Crumlin Arm was completed there were tram roads running from the valleys into Newport docks, carrying over 40,000 tons a year. Newport to Pontypool railway opened in 1852 and by 1880 Great Western Rail took over the canal. At this point the waterways had very little traffic, and last cargo boat travelled from Crumlin to Newport in 1930. The Crumlin Arm stretch of canal was then closed in 1949.
The Crumlin arm was originally 11 miles long. It started at the basin in Crumlin near the Navigation Inn and ran through the villages of Abercarn and Gwmcarn, now under the A467. The Canal crosses the Pontvwaun aqueduct and follows the side of the mountain above Crosskeys and Risca. The canal descends at Fourteen locks dropping 168ft into Newport, now ending at Barrack Hill. It would then continue along the Kingsway dual carriageway into Newport docks.
The Crumlin Arm is now a heritage site and wildlife habitat. It was restored in the early 2000s and the Fourteen locks centre was opened in 2002. The canal is looked after by local councils and Canal and Waterways Trust, but is mainly maintained by The Canal and Countryside volunteer group. Without them the canal would not survive.
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