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Wiltshire's waterways celebrate 50 years of renaissance

Thursday, 25 October marks 50 years of renaissance for the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire, following the passing of an important piece of legislation in 1968 which helped to save Britain’s waterways from dereliction.

Half a century ago, having fallen into decline due to the advent of motorways and railways as the key transport routes for industry, the nation's waterways were, in many instances, at risk of being lost forever.

The 1968 British Transport Act changed this and helped establish the waterways as places for leisure. This helped a growing movement of passionate canal lovers to restore and campaign for their survival. Today the Kennet & Avon Canal is more popular than ever with more visitors on the towpath and more boats than any time in living memory.

To mark this anniversary we are encouraging people to experience the benefits of visiting and supporting their local waterway.

With ever increasing rates of physical and mental health conditions in the UK, we believe waterways are uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to improving the wellbeing of the nation, with millions of people living within easy reach of one of the towpaths running alongside its canals and rivers.

Indeed, new independent research published recently shows that simply spending time by the waterways can make you happier and improve your life satisfaction.

Richard Thomas, Trust director, Wales and South West, says: "Our waterways have seen remarkable change from carrying freight, through to their use for leisure activities to a new era for improving the wellbeing of visitors.

"In 1968 many of our canals were within a hair's breadth of being lost forever. Fifty years on, canals are more popular than ever before. And research from the Trust shows that spending time by the waterways makes people happier and improves their life satisfaction.

"We know that there is still much work to be done to ensure that our canals are cherished as special local places. We want people to experience their local waterway - to come and visit and see the autumn colours or to join us with one of our regular volunteering opportunities."

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Last Edited: 24 October 2018

photo of a location on the canals
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