This October sees the start of a six-month-long programme of repairs to England and Wales’ waterways.
As part of this work, we are organising nine free public open days across the country and will invite the communities who use them, or live and work alongside the sites, to come and learn about their heritage and the work to care for them, and how canals and rivers can make a difference to people’s lives. Research proves that being by a canal or river makes people happier and healthier, and people feel less stressed when they visit their local waterway.
This year the open days are taking place in busy urban areas to highlight how our canals bring much needed green and blue spaces and routes to towns and cities across the country. Providing the perfect spots for recreation, exercise or just to unwind, the waterways that weave through these communities also bring calm and serenity to areas where such spaces are rare and can make a huge difference to people’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Visitors coming along to one of our open days can expect to find a range of activities to try out such as fishing and canoeing. Additionally, our teams of skilled and passionate craftsman and other experts, from civil engineers to heritage advisors and environmental scientists, and our team of committed volunteers, will be on hand to explain about the varied work we do, why the preservation of this vital part of the country’s history is so important, and how the waterways are being re-purposed to yield benefits for people today.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Trust, says: "Our waterways are an amazing historic legacy and we work year-round to keep them open and safe for everyone to enjoy, which requires a huge amount of planning and investment as well as a wide range of craftsmanship and expertise.
"We believe that waterways can make a real difference to people’s lives and for the millions of people living alongside them, especially in our towns and cities where green space is at a premium, canals and rivers can provide a boost to health, happiness and wellbeing. They are free to use and on people’s doorstep. By opening up our work to the public we can show the benefits they offer while explaining about the scale of the work to care for them now."
As part of its maintenance programme, we will be working on more than 180 different sites between October 2018 and March 2019. The types of works this winter range from re-lining and replacing lock gates – hand-made in our specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire - to repairing canal walls and other structures, and maintenance works at iconic sites like Anderton Boat Lift.