As a result of the Industrial Revolution, by the end of the 18th century Torfaen and its surrounding areas saw an increasingly urgent need for a new transport system to move bulk materials and manufactured goods more quickly, cheaply and reliably.

230 years ago, the only way to transport goods was by boat via narrow rivers, along the coast, or by rustic roads using pack animals and wagons.

In 1792 work began on the Monmouthshire Canal from Newport to Crumlin. Men were brought in from as far as Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire to work on its construction. Some of the more skilled ‘navvies’, as they became known, could shift 20 tonnes of earth in one working day.

By 1806 a branch had been added to Pontypool and on to Pontnewynydd. In 1812 the Monmouthshire Canal was joined by the new Brecon and Abergavenny Canal at Pontymoile junction, tolls collected at the weighbridge of Junction Cottage.

The canal facilitated much of the export of coal from the local areas through the Bristol Channel from Newport, Barry and Cardiff docks and on around the world.

The arm of the canal to Pontnewynydd is now long gone but the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (Brecon down to Newport) and Junction Cottage still all exist.

If such histories interest you, from September 5 the museum’s new exhibition ‘Bridges, Barges and Boatmen’ will showcase more than 200 years of images of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal from the Torfaen Borough Collections and with contemporary works of art for sale from local artists and photographers.

This Nostalgia column has been researched and written by museum volunteer Lewis Griffiths.