Our new Chairman Rev. John Collier takes the Helm!

I would like to introduce myself and outline how I see the work of the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust (MBACT) going forward.

I was born in Griffithstown, so the canal was a huge part of my growing up, not least my daily walk to school was along the canal towpath. As with all youngsters falling in was also an occasional hazard !!

Roll on the years and I am The Rector in Mamhilad, Goetre, and Llanover, and the ‘Mon and Brec’ is central to these parishes running through the centre and joining them like a string of pearls !

In 2014 I was at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre and expressed an interest in supporting the work of MBACT, and they were looking for a chaplain so I got a new job. Subsequently I joined the committee, and became a director and vice chair, assuming the role of Chairman in April this year.

I am grateful for all the work Richard Dommett has done as Chairman over the years; so much of which has been behind the scenes, and thankfully he will continue to avail us of his expertise in the regeneration work which the Trust is doing.

The Trust is a registered charity, whose work is to ensure the well-being of the canal which is an historical, ecological, economic and leisure asset for our local community. To further our regeneration aims we coordinate and support funding applications, initiatives to promote the canal, and are key partners in the maintenance and restoration of the unnavigable section.

It’s not always immediately obvious, but I can assure you that MBACT is working furiously in the background for the benefit of securing a future for the canal. We are in regular contact with officers at CRT (the Canal and River Trust), and Torfaen, Newport and Caerphilly Councils, to raise issues of concern, prepare funding applications as well as more practical day to day work.

MBACT has two trading arms, the Shop at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, and the Regeneration Company, who both generate income for the Trust to support our work. Our Community Boats can not only play a key role in generating income for reinvestment in our canal projects, but also be used to promote the canals heritage and importance, not least by bringing people to the canal, but also in the educational work which we are developing.

I am also grateful for all other groups and individual volunteers who give their time and effort in support of the Mon and Brec, in so many different ways. Routine maintenance, not least vegetation control and litter picking are essential to keep the canal safe and looking good. Working with our partners in government, education, the IWA (Inland Waterways Association) and CRT we aim to raise the profile of the canal as a major tourist attraction in this area and to secure funding to maintain and extend the navigable parts of the canal.

Without a truly collaborative approach we will never see the opening up of the canal through Cwmbran, but joining together with one voice I would hope one day to be able to travel from Brecon to Newport and then ascend the Fourteen Locks flight and arrive at Cwmcarn!

Rev. John Collier
28th April 2021