War on the waterways

To mark Armistice Day we've 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.

Remembrance Day Remembrance Day

Here, our dedicated 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' carried vital supplies through our canals and rivers. 

Homeland defences and the canals 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.

Our canals now bring wellbeing opportunities to millions of people across England and Wales. For many, part of their enduring attraction lies in the layers of history they continue to represent.

Last date edited: 28 October 2019