In 1792, work began on the Monmouthshire Canal from Newport to Crumlin. A later branch was added to Pontypool and on to Pontnewynydd - which opened in 1806.

Six years later, the Monmouthshire Canal was joined by the new Brecon and Abergavenny Canal at Pontymoile Junction.

Canals need to be as level as possible but sometimes obstacles could not be avoided; bridges had to be built over roadways, tunnels through hills, aqueducts over rivers and gorges and locks were needed to traverse gradients.

The Monmouthshire Canal involved a combined rise of over 793 feet and to overcome this, the canal had 74 locks, two tunnels and three aqueducts constructed.

Building these was a massive undertaking - as it was all dug by hand. Men were brought in from all over Wales to build the canal and they were known as navigators (or ‘navvies’ for short).

To help pay for the upkeep of the canal, tolls were charged along the route following the weighing of the cargo. Junction Cottage at Pontymoile Junction basin was one such tollhouse that is still standing today.

By the late 1830s, after over 20 years of very heavy use, the Monmouthshire-Brecon canals were becoming very congested and the traffic was approaching capacity.

Local industrialists saw the railway as the solution to this problem and in 1848 formed the Monmouthshire Railway Company.

In 1852 a single line railway joined Newport to Pontypool at Crane Street station and two years later the extended line to Blaenafon via Pontnewynydd was opened.

On the canals, traffic was fading away and the toll yield was not covering the cost of maintenance. In 1865, the Monmouthshire Railway Company bought out the canal company and was in turn purchased by Great Western Railway in 1875.

By this time the use of canals as the main cargo and goods carrier was all but over.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.