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Practical Toolkit

This section aims to guide restoration groups through the sometimes complicated world of actually undertaking work on site. Alongside the Safety & Technical Toolkits it gives workable solutions to help you undertake restoration work safely. 

Additionally there are links to the Practical Restoration Handbook chapters and over 70 toolbox talks that can be adapted to suit the needs of individual projects.

Advice and (Muddy) Support 

IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group organises and runs around 25 week long residential canal camps as well as weekend digs via our regional groups.  Every year our volunteers spend over 40,000 hours restoring the canals of England and Wales.  You can invite WRG to become part of your restoration project to help a wide range of activities from vegetation clearance to a full lock chamber restoration. 

Health & Safety law requires that sites are managed responsibly, and that those operating plant and vehicles have appropriate skills and training.  WRG’s Driver Authorisation Scheme is the tool that is used to satisfy this requirement on all WRG sites.

WRG also has a specialist forestry team who can undertake a wide range of activities from cross-cutting and maintenance to aerial work and working from Mobile Elevated Work Platforms.

There are some useful WRG documents here.

WRG Board

WRG’s Board and Panel of Experts are always on hand to offer advice, practical support and training to restoration groups.  If you have a query or want to chat about WRG getting involved in your project please email [email protected] 

WRG Board members are:

  • Mike Palmer (chair)
  • Rick Barnes
  • Nick Dybeck
  • George Eycott
  • Helen Gardner
  • John Hawkins
  • Dave Hearnden
  • Nigel Lee
  • George Rogers
  • Jonathan Smith (deputy chair)
  • Harry Watts
  • Mike Wills

Restoration Training Grant

The Restoration Training Award has been set up to assist with the cost of training volunteers in skills associated with inland waterway restoration. Since the early years, restoration projects have gradually become more and more complex, requiring volunteers to operate large machinery, conduct extensive surveys and deal with increasingly demanding legislation, all to the very highest standards.

WRG’s Training Award aims to promote a more confident and skilled volunteer workforce. The criteria for the award are set deliberately wide and encourage applications from individuals as well as canal societies who may wish to organise training for a group of volunteers.

This award can provide up to 75% of the direct costs (i.e. course costs, travel and accommodation expense) up to a maximum of £750.

If you have any queries please email Jenny Hodson or call her on 01494 783453


Practical Restoration Handbooks and Toolbox Talks

Put together by IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group and includes information on health and safety, site management, leadership skills, plant, excavators, vehicles & trailers, hand tools, vegetation clearance, towing paths, bank protection, demolition, scaffolding, brickwork, concreting and much much more.  Book 1 of the Handbook has been fully revised (published in September 2022) and contains 25 chapters covering Getting it right from the start: Planning a Waterway Restoration Project’.

Published in October 2022 to accompany the updated Handbook are 74 Toolbox Talks covering a wide range of topics.  The intention is that restoration group organisers and site leaders can provide ‘bite-sized’ talks to volunteers to cover specific activities that are carried out on the project.