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The unique heritage of the waterways is under threat

Waterways heritage

The heritage of the inland waterways system are not just the canals and rivers themselves but also the buildings, engineering structures, working mechanisms, artefacts, boats, people, skills and culture.

This heritage is what makes our waterways special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding.

Our waterways are not a museum; they are a usable asset with a living heritage. We want to make sure they evolve for the enjoyment and involvement of present and future generations.

Much of the waterways infrastructure is 200 to 250 years old; Government needs to ensure sufficient funding is in place for historic structures such as reservoirs, dams and embankments, and other structures such as locks, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts. We need to protect the small details that make it possible for traditional boating skills to be practiced and evolve.

To preserve our waterways for the future, we need to:

  • understand how waterways heritage is at risk and what has been saved
  • demonstrate how waterways heritage adds value through regeneration opportunities, visitor enjoyment, tourism and education
  • make sure our planning officers are consulted on any waterways-related development
  • lobby for waterways heritage protection, alongside other organisations
Read More

Waterways Heritage report - Part 1



Waterways Heritage report - Part 2




Listed structures

Our waterways heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.


Listed ancient monuments

We want to improve understanding of what waterways heritage is, how it is at risk and demonstrate its value in terms of regeneration opportunities, visitor enjoyment, tourism and education.


World heritage sites

As a heritage asset Briatin’s waterways are unsurpassed in scale and accessibility – telling the story of Britain’s industrial past as well as being important to its future.

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

Heritage News

Campaign updates

Waterways heritage

Our waterways heritage is what makes Britain’s canals and rivers special and it must be actively protected – through the local planning system and sufficient funding – for the future.

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.

Waterway businesses

The government needs to intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy and what could be a core element of the British stay-at-home leisure and holiday sectors in the coming years.

Waterways affected by HS2

We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.