The Inland Waterways Association is a registered charity, founded in 1946, which advocates the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways for public benefit. We have over 17,000 members including 350 corporate members with a combined membership representing a voice of well over 50,000 people supporting and involved with the inland waterways.
IWA works closely with navigation authorities, national and local authorities, voluntary, private and public sector organisations. We campaign and lobby for support and encourage public participation in the inland waterways. IWA also manages the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for the public benefit, through its subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd, (www.essexwaterways.com) having stepped in to prevent its closure in 2005.
IWA actively supports waterway restoration, and through its waterways restoration volunteering organisation, Waterway Recovery Group (www.wrg.org.uk), organises and subsidises over 20, week‐long waterway restoration working holiday schemes for volunteers of all ages throughout the UK each year, as well as conducting multiple work parties around the country on most weekends. This particularly enables young people to participate in the preservation and restoration of our heritage, and in doing so learn construction and heritage skills.
IWA arranges affordable insurance for over 180 waterway organisations and is able to give engineering and other professional advice. Its members provide the expertise necessary to organise festivals and events to raise public awareness. IWA is organised into 33 local branches covering all geographical areas of the country. Both centrally, and through the branch network, IWA volunteers coordinate activities as diverse as policing planning applications through the waterway corridor, raising money for restoration, and providing education on the value and benefits of their local waterways.
More than 500 miles of canals and navigable rivers have been re‐opened to public use since the Association was founded in 1946. The Association is working to restore a further 500 miles of derelict inland waterways.