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Growing sinkhole puts paid to social club

21 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Cwmfelin Social Club

Richard Youle Local Democracy Reporter

Large parts of a social club located above a growing sinkhole are to be demolished following the collapse of a culvert.

Mike Kennedy, of Cwmfelin Social Club, Cwmbwrla, Swansea, said he has been advised that all of the club, except for a section at the front which was added in 2005, would have to come down so that contractors can access the sinkhole. He estimated that the front section was around 10% of the building’s overall footprint.

Staff awaiting updates

Mr Kennedy said there is a collapsed culvert some 10m below the club, a sewer, and a tramline which served the former Cwmfelin steelworks.

“Heavy plant machinery will have to go down (the sinkhole), and they may need to use piling to make it safe,” he said. “We are trying to keep everybody in the loop.”

The club, which had more than 600 members when it closed temporarily in the summer due to the sinkhole, has 20 full and part-time employees. It hasn’t reopened since, and updates will be given to staff and members at two meetings on January 3 at Manselton Community Centre.

Welsh Water said the collapsed culvert damaged the main trunk sewer, which has required it to rig up a temporary sewer system. This approximately 500m sewer line runs from the grounds of the nearby Libanus Chapel site, along the pavement of Carmarthen Road and underneath the railway bridge, and then eastwards to a main sewer connection point.

A Welsh Water spokesman said: “We do now need to carry out a full repair to the damaged section of sewer, as soon as possible to ensure a long-term solution as the measures currently in place are only temporary.

“Accessing the damaged section of pipe is proving to be a challenge due to its location and the dangers of working so close to the sinkhole. We are looking at all possible options to safely access the pipe and carry out the repair, which might include removing parts of the building.”

Complex repair

Mr Kennedy said there was a major leak on the main road at the front of the club in 2021. A small hole appeared in the club’s car park, near the toilets, in January 2022 which committee members reported to insurers. In August this year larger cracks formed and the toilets fell in. The hole was filled in temporarily but reappeared after further wet weather.  There were further problems in October when a sewer underneath nearby Heol y Gors burst, which Welsh Water said was caused by water that would normally flow along the culvert entering into its system.

Mr Kennedy said he was liaising with solicitors and insurers, and that the club would have its own experts on site when the access to the sinkhole area was gained. His view was that the full cause of the problems would only be ascertained at that point. He added that Network Rail was also involved in discussions due to the proximity of the rail line.

With their venue out of action, some Cwmfelin Social club members have been attending clubs in Landore and Penlan. Landore Social Club secretary Terry Edkins said he sympathised with them. “It’s a nice club, and it’s sad to see the situation it’s in,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Kennedy said the stressful part was not knowing, for now, what the cause of the culvert collapse was. “It’s a long, drawn-out saga,” he said.

The Welsh Water spokesman said it would provide another update when a repair plan had been agreed.

“We are liaising very closely with Cwmfelin Social Club’s committee to explain the complexity of the repair and the potential implications for the building,” said the spokesman. “We fully understand that this is a sensitive matter and appreciate the cooperation being shown by the committee.”


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Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
7 months ago

Minor historical fact.
It’s not the remains of a tram line. The club is built within the curtilage of the former Cwmfelin steelworks. The works used coal from the Cefngyfelach colliery which was some distance away (near the Welcome Pub in Treboeth) and was connected by rail.
Some traces of this rail link still exist.

Damien Jorgensen
7 months ago

Is this related to the disappearing building in the late 1980s over the road in the weavers yard?

I recall it disappearing and us kids looking in where the garage had been

Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson
29 days ago

Damien, no that was a shaft that opened up, I have photos from that

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