Celebrating the 50th birthday of the Waterway Recovery Group

We are extremely excited to help celebrate the 50th birthday of the Waterway Recovery Group, a team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the years to restore our nation’s forgotten waterways.

Waterway Recovery Group at Grantham Canal WRG at Grantham Canal

The Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) was born in 1970 with the aim of being a coordinating force to assist local groups in restoring canals. The group has grown massively since, not only in terms of people power, but also the experience gained. They are now part of the Inland Waterway Association (IWA) and work alongside canal societies across the country to share knowledge and provide practical support using their impressive fleet of vans and a range of plant machinery.

Working together

The Canal & River Trust and the WRG have worked closely together for several years. In 2012, WRG volunteers carried out some important restoration work on the Oxford Canal near the village of Barby in Northamptonshire. They worked alongside a contractor to repair and restore bridges 79 and 80. It was a project that demonstrated the real benefits that volunteers bring to the waterways. It was also a great example of the strength of partnerships in caring for our waterways.

The project made use of reclaimed bricks, whilst using traditional lime mortar to repoint existing brickwork and completely rebuild one of the brick parapets.

WRG completing brick work

The restoration work taking place on the Grantham Canal has also benefited from the helping hands and skilled knowledge of the WRG. Since 2016, when WRG first held their summer camp in the Vale of Belvoir, it has been assisting the Grantham Canal Society and the Canal & River Trust as part of the Trust’s project (part-funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund) to restore  Locks 14 &15. In just one camp, they spent 3,200 hours laying bricks, helping with concrete pours and moving earth. These camps offer incredible opportunities to learn new skills and gain friends for life.

Working on Grantham Canal

Sharing best practice

The extensive practical experience and knowledge held by the WRG and IWA make them the perfect partners to help us in deliver training to hundreds of people each year through our joint restoration training programme. Our programme includes the Annual Waterways Restoration Conference alongside many other smaller talks and workshops held throughout the year. 

Join the celebrations

WRG 50th Birthday banner Celebrating 50 years of WRG

During early August 2020, WRG volunteers past and present shared their memories, stories, photos and videos on social media to celebrate the group’s 50th birthday. You can look at these by searching for #WRGat50.

Find out more about how you can volunteer with the WRG and help bring the nation’s derelict waterways back to life.

Or if you’d like to volunteer with the Canal & River Trust please see here.

All photos courtesy of the Waterways Recovery Group.

Last date edited: 7 September 2020