The majority of our network is over 200 years old and still works as it was designed to. This is quite remarkable and a credit both to the original engineers and the continuing dedication and expertise of our staff.

Two workmen manouvering a lock gate into place Installing a lock gate

We look after 2,000 miles of canals and rivers and over 8,500 different structures, many of them listed. We actually look after the third highest number of listed structures after the Church of England and National Trust. Caring for our waterways is an expensive and technically demanding job.

No two locks on our canals and rivers are the same and our quirky canal and river system throws up all sorts of challenges created by the weather, time and occasionally the people who use them. With almost 20 million visits a year from boaters, cyclists, walkers, anglers and families our waterways take a lot of pounding.

If we didn’t maintain our locks, bridges, culverts and embankments, our waterways wouldn’t be able to support the thousands of boats and millions of visitors that they currently do. A traditional way of life and a much-loved escape from the pressures of everyday life would be lost for good. A trip to the waterways just wouldn’t be the same.

Thankfully our maintenance teams have hundreds of years of combined knowledge about our canals and rivers. From building new lock gates to repairing leaks and even diving to inspect underwater structures, their work ensures our waterways remain open to everyone.

Last date edited: 19 August 2015