War on the waterways

To mark Armistice Day we have been investigating the connections between war and the waterways, and the impact that war had on the people, places and heritage of our canals and rivers.

Here, the heritage team share their stories of how war has left its mark on our canals and rivers. Above is a short film which offers insights into how canals were adapted to meet a new purpose in dangerous times.

Read more below about how the 'Idle Women' volunteered to carry vital supplies through our waterways.  

Homeland defences and the waterways became one and the same thing in wartime. We take a look at the building of anti-tank measures, pill boxes and stop gates. The recent discovery of air raid shelters in a Smethwick canal embankment serves as reminder of how significant industrial manufacturing was to the war effort, as well as the need for protection in the work place.

Evidence of wartime heritage can be found all around the country. It's often a case of knowing where to look.

When we remember that millions of men and women served, fought and died in two world wars it is hard to comprehend the scale of loss. Here we have a few stories and memorials that remind us of the individual lives and sacrifices made.

We work to safeguard the heritage of our waterways and to share it with others. Our canal network was built as a commercial transportation system and has since changed significantly. Though old purposes are overtaken by new demands, we can find innovative ways of reusing historic structures to ensure they have a function that can be sustained long into the future.

Our waterways now serve a thriving leisure, residential and tourism sector and much of their attraction lies in the layers of history they continue to represent.

Remembrance Day Remembrance Day

Last date edited: 24 January 2018