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.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust are a great bunch of ‘waterway people’! They invited me to give a presentation at their recent AGM and have been good enough to put a copy of it on their website.
It was an interesting day and it was good to catch up with John Laverick, a former Chairman and now Vice President of the W&BCT and a colleague of mine in old BW days.
The Wilts & Berks Canal received its Act in 1795 and it’s the only narrow canal in the South of England. It ran for 51 miles from Semington on the Kennet & Avon to Abingdon on the Thames, with 42 locks and numerous wooden lift-bridges. A further link was made, via the North Wilts Canal, to the Thames & Severn at Latton. Trade was never as substantial as hoped, although coal from Somerset was important. Following a dramatic failure of the Stanley aqueduct in 1901, traffic dwindled and ceased altogether in 1906 and the Wilts & Berks closed in 1914.
For decades the line of the canal slowly mouldered until, in 1977 the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust was formed and has been working steadily towards restoration ever since. Over 100 members of this motivated, well-organised Trust attended the AGM and one of the high points of the day was a tour of the canal between Wichelstowe and Swindon, taking in a new lock and channel, lined with new houses. There are photographs of this on the W&BCT’s website, which is very informative and includes links to its excellent magazine, Dragonfly. It’s also got some fascinating historic documents, including the ‘Canal Rules & Byelaws June 1819’ which include instructions about not dropping paddles, keeping horses muzzled, giving way to laden boats and ‘that no lighted candle shall at any time be used in the Company’s Warehouses except in a lantern…in the presence of the Company’s Wharfinger’. Quite right too, given that canal warehouses occasionally handled gunpowder, amongst the usual commodities.
Over the past year the W&BCT’s branches have done much good work. Chris Coyle’s summary of their achievements is also on their website and includes the Wichelstowe canal link and the potential acquisition of the Peterborough Arms pub at Dauntsey Lock where the W&BCT will have its HQ and which will become a centre for canal activity, education and social events. Good luck to them; there’s plenty more to come from this flourishing canal trust!
Thanks to Kath Hatton for the lovely photo.
As national heritage manager, Nigel’s role is to lead the Canal & River Trust’s team of regional heritage advisers in England and Wales. He has over 25 years’ experience of working in the conservation, archaeology and interpretation of historic buildings and places. He is a member of the editorial board of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. He has written numerous articles concerning heritage conservation and is the author of several longer published works, including the English Heritage Book of Canals.