Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
In the hey day of the canals, when commercial cargo was a common sight up and down the waterway network, a considerable number of workers were required to keep our trunk routes operating efficiently. All of these people needed somewhere to live, and consequently, the lock keeper’s cottage evolved.
Some of the most popular canals boasted a small army of staff including lengthsmen, responsible for simple maintenance, lock keepers, to ensure the smooth running of locks, and, most importantly, toll collectors.
Canal architecture is above all functional, and this is evident in the design of the traditional lock cottage. Two up, two down and constructed from local materials, the cottages still exude a rustic charm – perhaps due to their enviable locations. Canal cottages are often strategically sited at the top of lock flights, and consequently enjoy picture postcard views.
Canal architects would occasionally add stylistic touches to workers’ cottages. Some boasted bay windows which made it easier for the lock keeper to keep an eye on canal traffic – the same logic which prompted the traditional design of the toll house. However, there are doubts as to whether visibility or simple economy led to the interesting circular cottages which dot the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
Last date edited: 7 July 2015