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.
An east-west inland waterway was discussed in Elizabethan times but nothing happened until the early 1700s, when stretches of the rivers Kennet and Avon were made navigable to Newbury and Bath respectively.
Bath was a popular place in the 1700s, attracting thousands of fashionable and wealthy visitors including members of the Royal Family. They came to ‘take the waters’ at the spa and to enjoy the social activities taking place in the city at the Assembly Rooms, the Pump Rooms and the theatres and music halls.
Huge loads of coal came into Bath via the canal to heat the spacious Georgian mansions for these visitors.
Built as a commercial transport route between 1794 and 1810, the Kennet & Avon Canal transformed Bath, providing safe and efficient travel between London and Bath, and via the River Avon, to Bristol.
Before the canal, the journey to London involved a difficult overland route or a perilous sea journey via the Bristol Channel and around the south coast. The canal shortened the journey, offered a safe and efficient route and created new opportunities for trade and transport. Bath stone could be delivered easily to London and other cities, and tons of coal, food and other goods essential for Bath’s profitable tourist industry could be broughtinto the city.
The canal flourished between 1810 and 1840, carrying stone from Bath and bringing coal and domestic goods into the city. It reached its trading peak in 1840 transporting building materials for the Great Western Railway.
Ironically the railway signaled the end of the canal’s prosperity as it offered quicker journeys for goods and people. Canal trade then gradually decreased until stretches became virtually derelict in the 1950s.
The creation of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust in the 1960s reversed the decline, and now the canal and its towpath is popular with walkers, cyclists, fishermen and boaters.
Last date edited: 17 July 2015