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Waterways heritage at risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

We protect waterways heritage. We:

Provide guidance

We will work with local groups to identify developments that pose a heritage risk. We engage with local authorities to find solutions, working alongside others in the local community. We know training is crucial and will encourage more professional volunteers to get involved.

Improve protection

We want more waterways – including linked buildings and infrastructure – designated as Conservation Areas. In places that are already covered, we want local groups to encourage reviews if needed. We will recruit more people into planning/heritage officer roles.

Engage with communities

We will engage with communities to promote the importance of heritage assets as part of their local history and encourage a sense of ownership over them.

Champion skills

We will champion inland heritage skills by working with boatyards and craftspeople to develop training, in partnership with other organisations.


Waterways heritage features

What is waterways heritage?

Waterways heritage is more than just the canals and rivers themselves.

5 good reasons heritage matters

Still need convincing? Here’s 5 reasons to love canal and river heritage.

Do you know about aqueducts?

An introduction to canal aqueducts.

Local canal heritage campaigns

Burslem Branch Canal Trent & Mersey Canal Conservation Area
Crown Wharf planning protection for heritage
Aberdulais Aqueduct waterways heritage at risk from climate change
Hammersmith Bridge waterways heritage structure at risk
Moored boats at Snarestone Wharf on the Ashby Canal

Heritage News

The system is not a museum; it is a usable asset, its heritage a living one, and we want to ensure that it is protected in a way that is usable now and in the future.

IWA Waterways heritage report


Waterways heritage report: Part 1



Waterways heritage report: Part 2