This November will see the start of a five-month-long programme of repairs, as we spend £38million to restore some of the nation’s best loved sites.
As part of this work we are organising 10 free public open days across the country, offering the chance to see a part of the nation’s ‘hidden history’ and some of our most extraordinary waterway locations as you have never done before.
Our team of skilled and passionate experts, from construction supervisors, civil engineers and volunteers, to heritage advisors and apprentices, will be on hand at the open days to explain about the varied work we do and why it’s important to pass this knowledge and experience on to future generations.
Excitingly, visitors to the open days will be able to look around a pop-up museum which will showcase old items from the birth of the canals and some of the weird and wonderful finds from below the waterline. There will be ‘virtual hubs’ where people can plug in and watch virtual reality videos of some of our more unusual and awe-inspiring locations, and a display of historic images from each area will be on display.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, says: "Our historic waterways are still working as they were designed to 200 years ago thanks to the Canal & River Trust. We work year-round to keep them open and safe for everyone to enjoy, which requires a huge amount of planning, investment and craftsmanship as well as a wide range of knowledge and expertise. Our apprenticeship programme helps us to preserve these skills and to offer local training and employment opportunities to the next generation so these skills can continue for another 200 years and beyond.
"By opening up our work to the public we can give them a glimpse into the waterways’ original 18th Century design and explain the scale of the Canal & River Trust’s work to care for them now. We believe that whatever you do life is better by water so we want to inspire more people to support us to ensure we can continue to make our waterways great places to enjoy."
As part of our maintenance programme, we will be working on over 200 different sites across the country. The new lock gates are made in our specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire.