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The charity making life better by water

Canal repair open days offer a look below the waterline

We're planning to invite people to find out what lies beneath the surface this winter as we carry out a £59 million programme of repairs to protect and preserve the 200-year-old waterways in its care.

Open Day

Every winter we replace lock gates, dredge to ensure the water is deep enough for boats, undertake maintenance on our mechanical structures, and carry out a host of other heritage repairs and tasks to keep the network open and help ensure its resilience to climate change.

Open Day Events

Subject to the latest coronavirus government guidelines, we plan to run a series of in-person open days in February and March so people can walk along the bottom of a drained waterway, see the working industrial heritage up close, hear from the teams involved and find out more about the essential work to keep this important part of the nation's history flowing.

There will also be a programme of online ‘behind the scenes' tours starting in December giving people who aren't local, or who would prefer to join online, the opportunity to see the breadth of works taking place.

In-person open days are being planned across the country and will encompass a variety of sites and works. People will be able to experience: the spectacular Anderton Boat Lift on the River Weaver; a walk along the drained Hertford Union Canal in the heart of London; intricate staircase locks at Grindley Brook on the Llangollen Canal; important water-saving repairs at Hebden Bridge on the Rochdale Canal; replacing lock gates at Seend on the Kennet & Avon Canal; and a chance to visit Newark's inland dry dock – the largest in the UK.

Virtual Open Days

In addition, virtual events include, amongst others: ‘wonder of the waterways' Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal; works to pumping stations on the Kennet & Avon Canal; and emergency breach repairs on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Rishton.

Caring for our waterways

Richard Parry, our chief executive, said: “The work the Trust carries out every winter is at the centre of our care and maintenance. Our teams are out, often battling the elements, to keep the canals and rivers open, safe and accessible for boaters, local communities, and other waterway visitors.

“The task of looking after this ageing network presents an ongoing challenge, particularly as extreme weather becomes more common, so we will continue to be unrelenting in our efforts to generate the funds and support needed to keep the waterways available for generations to come. The open days are a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the work involved and why it's so important, as well as seeing the canals from a fresh perspective.”

We work year-round to protect and preserve the nation's canal network but looking after these precious spaces is costly and takes many hands. No other UK charity brings so much free, open and accessible blue and green space to the doorsteps of so many people, and the Trust is asking people to #ActNowForCanals and join in by taking part in citizen science projects, raising funds, volunteering or just clearing up litter. Every small action makes a huge difference.

Last Edited: 13 December 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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