News article created on 11 September 2015

Waterways Heritage Report Published

A new report published today [11 September] highlights the significant progress made to safeguard and protect England and Wales’ waterway heritage, with 85% of historic structures classed as being in good condition or better.

Our report details strategies used to manage historic and sometimes fragile infrastructure. Of particular note is a new programme to train up young people in heritage skills and the growing role of volunteers in supporting the Trust’s heritage activities. 

Headlines include:

  • Over 1,500 hours were given by 40 volunteers helping the heritage team, a 78% increase from last year
  • 2014/15 saw the first cohort of 14 ‘Heritage Trainees’ being taken on for a three-year scheme partially funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with a number
  • The HLF remains an important partner in enabling heritage projects, supporting over £570,000 of our projects in 2014/15
  • Over the last 10 years, the number of protected structures on local or national Heritage at Risk registers reduced from 125 to 24, just 1% of protected waterway structures
  • Vehicle strikes remain a common cause of damage to historic bridges, with 134 incidents recorded last year.

We are responsible for the care of 2,663 listed buildings and 50 scheduled monuments.

Richard Parry, chief executive at the Trust, said: “Championing and protecting the historic environment of the waterways is a key area of our work and we’re proud of the many historic sites and buildings we have worked on and improved, and of the contribution our volunteers continue to make to our heritage works and projects.

“I would like also to thank our voluntary Heritage Advisory Group, which is ably chaired by Sir Neil Cossons, for their support and advice across a range of issues affecting the waterways and the setting of important heritage assets that are cherished by our customers, local communities and the wider public.”

Prime responsibility

Sir Neil Cossons, chair of the Heritage Advisory Group, said: “Britain’s network of inland waterways is one of the largest and most important heritage resources in the country. Today the care of this inspiring landscape is the prime responsibility of the Trust who fulfil their obligations in an increasingly discerning and professional way.

“The care of its designated heritage assets is a success story of which the Trust can be proud, but we are all increasingly aware that the network as a whole is a vulnerable asset needing the most sensitive of handling and management. The task ahead for the Trust – and all of us – is to ensure that the value of this precious inheritance is understood and protected.”

Read the full report