South West Wales

Copper heritage boat launch looms on Swansea's Tawe

Clockwise - The boat the trust is buying, the old Engine House on the River Tawe, post war aerial photo of Hafod and the River Tawe
Image caption The canal boat will sail a two-mile stretch of the River Tawe through Swansea's copper heritage past

A charity which will run river trips through Swansea's industrial copper past is poised to secure a boat.

Swansea Community Boat Trust will take school pupils, community groups and tourists from the city's marina to the Liberty Stadium and back.

The two-mile stretch of the River Tawe passes through the remains of 'Copperopolis,' where 90% of the 19th Century world's copper was processed.

The trust has had an offer accepted on a canal boat operating in Leeds.

Money has been secured thanks to fundraising, corporate sponsorship, a loan and grant from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Project manger John Davies said: "The trips will run from Swansea marina by the Waterfront Museum to close to the Liberty Stadium.

"We will be able to show our passengers the historic copperworks buildings still in existence.

'World importance'

"You can see the quays where the copper ore was brought in, there's a couple of engine houses, the old laboratory buildings and you've got the rolling mill buildings.

"It was not just important in terms of Swansea, it's no exaggeration to say it's of world importance.

"At one time something like 90% of the copper in the world was processed here.

"We call it a time travel experience for the kids."

Swansea University is undertaking a major research project marking the influence of the 19th Century copper industry on Swansea.

Image caption Swansea University is undertaking research into the influence of Swansea's 19th Century copper industry

Computer animations, exhibitions and activities involving local groups are to take place to celebrate the site.

The city council, which Mr Davies said had given great support to the trust - which was set up five years ago - is looking to develop the riverside and under its plans listed buildings would be preserved and new uses found for some.

Mr Davies said while the funding was in place for the boat the next challenge was to secure corporate sponsorship so the loan could be repaid as soon as possible and to help with running costs.

He said while the main focus would be on trips for schools and community groups, as well as tourist runs, they could also look at leasing the boat for functions.

"It's been a long road to get here but the package is now in place and it has given us time to develop a business plan and to build a team to run it."

He said if everything went to plan the boat would launch early next year, hopefully as early as 1 March.

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