For nearly fifty years the Club has campaigned on heritage in general, and historic boats in particular. Additionally it has acted to preserve aspects of waterways heritage which were specific to the needs of historic craft in their working context.
Why we’re passionate about canal heritage
Our National Asset
The Canal and River Trust is now the custodian of a vital aspect of our national heritage and needs recognition and support by government and the public. The Club is concerned that as a nation we do not always understand the importance of the canal system to our history. The waterways of Britain kick-started the industrial revolution that turned this nation into the world’s first industrialised society and it is inconceivable that this heritage and its historic integrity should be lost through ignorance or neglect.
All around the canal system are fine examples of British engineering and technical prowess that are worthy of preservation. From lofty aqueducts, to amazing tunnels, elegant bridges, extensive reservoirs with ingenious water management systems and locks, beautiful warehouses and wharves – they all need our care and protection and the Club intends to be robust when their integrity is threatened.
Our Disappearing Heritage, available through our club Shop, is an excellent read and illustrates what we might lose.
Preserving heritage through sensitive maintenance
As well as historic canal-related buildings themselves, the Club cares about the loss of traditional features and lock furniture, which in themselves tell the story of how the canals were worked. The increasing use by CRT of sub-contractors and the gradual loss of its own internal expertise can lead to an unintended loss of heritage features. Often, these features can be preserved at little extra cost and within the normal maintenance programme.
Our Newsletter Editor, Val Roberts, has compiled an illustrated list of good and not-so-good maintenance - with suggestions of how it could be put right. Further contributions should be sent to the Editor, using the contact form.
Inappropriate canal-side development
The Club recognises that the role of the waterways is changing and that new buildings and new uses for water space are inevitable and sometimes desirable. Good design, sympathetic understanding of the context and effective management can produce developments that enhance the historic value of the waterway. Unsympathetic or inappropriate design can destroy it for ever.
We are particularly concerned about canal-side property developments that lead to a degradation of the historic value of the canal corridor. We rely on our members to be aware of potential developments and planning applications in their areas, and to alert our committee.
Health and Safety and Heritage
The Canal and River Trust is responsible for a system which is unavoidably and inherently hazardous. Without water, locks, paddle gear and swing bridges, the system would not only cease to function; it simply would not exist. But CRT cannot simply exclude the general public from the vast majority of its land and its operations. Indeed, public access has become part of the Trust’s raison d'etre and it is treading a difficult line in balancing the needs of waterways users with the safety of the general public, and on the whole, it achieves a generally good safety record without generating too many complaints. However, measures aimed at protecting the general public can compromise the heritage context of the waterway and on occasion can actually increase the risk to boaters, and this is what the Club seeks to highlight and help CRT to avoid.