Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Mnmouthsire and Brecon Canal Lock 8_ conservation area

UPDATE - 23 APRIL 2021

Recent dry weather has affected the water levels in sections of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Newport.

Water is not flowing from higher ground sections of the canal in Caerphilly and Torfaen counties, down into lower ground sections within our boundary.

There are also no feeder streams for the canal located within Newport.

Our team has carried out inspections. We are confident water is not leaking out of the canal, and that wildlife are not currently affected.

Our dedicated canal officer will continue patrols to ensure wildlife remain safe.

We will also install bunds at the head of lock chambers within our boundary to stop water leaking between canal sections.

This will maintain levels of water within each section, mitigating the effects of the dry weather.

We will continue to track the situation while the dry weather continues. Should anyone see fish in distress they can report this by calling 01633 656656 or emailing [email protected].

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal conservation area was designated on 21 January 1998 and covers part of a canal network comprising two arms extending broadly north and north east from the Malpas area of Newport.

The north arm of the canal extends to Brecon via Cwmbran, Abergavenny, Crickhowell and Talybont. The shorter and more easterly arm that once extended to Crumlin, now terminates north of Risca. The designated conservation area includes those sections of the canal that lie within the boundaries of Newport City Council.  

Download a plan of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal conservation area (pdf)   

Fourteen Locks is a Scheduled Ancient Monument situated on the Crumlin arm. There are also 21 Grade II listed buildings within the conservation area boundary.  

The canal now referred to as the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is in fact two canals.

The Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal enabled by an Act of 1793 runs from Brecon to Pontymoile whereas the Monmouthshire Canal used a further 30 locks to reach Newport.

The working boats were built of timber and were about 65 feet long with a beam of about 9 feet carrying up to 25 tons of cargo.

The Monmouthshire Canal Company with its canal and tramroads was responsible for the growth of Newport, which became the third largest coal port in Britain.

In 1796 the company shipped 3,500 tons of coal from its wharves on the river Usk, by 1809 this had grown to 150,000 tons.

The canal was serviced by a network of tramroads for horse-pulled trucks. Although coal and iron was the main cargo the boats also carried timber, lime and farm produce.

Today the canal from Pontymoile Junction to Brecon is navigable and is in regular use.

The sections from Newport to Pontymoile Junction and Newport to Risca survive but are not in a navigable state.

The sections of canal from Risca to Crumlin and Barrack Hill (Newport) to Newport Dock have been long abandoned and are mostly lost.

Newport City Council seeks to preserve and enhance all surviving sections of the canal situated within the administrative area and has designated these sections of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal as a conservation area.

The important surviving built structure of the canal is a striking landscape feature and has often been described as one of the most beautifully scenic waterways in the UK and hosts centuries old buildings and structures immersed in in industrial history as well as numerous species and habitats, many with a high nature conservation value.

The conservation area provides an ideal location for gentle strolls or for a hike of up to 33 miles beyond Newport.  

Further information 

The Monmouthshire Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust

Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre

View details of Newport's listed buildings 


Contact Newport City Council and ask for the conservation officer.