Why we’re passionate about canal heritage
A National Asset
The Club is concerned that government departments and politicians in general do not understand the value of the canal system as a national environmental and historic asset. The waterways of England kick-started the industrial revolution that turned this nation into the world’s first industrialised country. It is an essential part of our history and heritage, and it is inconceivable that anyone should condone the slow erosion of this key national asset and the loss of its historic integrity. Everywhere dotted around the canal system are examples of British engineering and technical prowess that are worthy of preservation. British Waterways are the custodians of this history for the nation and need the recognition by government and the public of this key heritage role.
Building heritage into 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 BW 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.
Newsletter Editor Val Roberts has compiled an illustrated, documented list of good and not-so-good maintenance - with suggestions of how it could be put right. Click here to view the photos. Further contributions should be sent to the Editor, using the contact form.
The Club recognises that the role of the waterways is changing and that new buildings and new uses for water space are inevitable and often 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.
The Club is particularly concerned about canalside property developments that lead to a degradation of the historic value of the canal corridor. The Club relies on its members to be aware of potential developments and planning applications in their areas and to alert the committee.
Read about our current campaigns here.