Introduction to Waterways History

Today, there are over 4,700 miles of navigable waterways. These are seen as a valuable part of Britain's landscape. They are appreciated for their industrial heritage, for their contribution to urban landscapes and for their atmosphere of peace in a busy world. Their leisure value is accepted and there is increasing interest in the potential of some waterways for the development of water borne freight carrying.

IWA Timeline: IWA was founded on the 15th February in 1946 by Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt. In November, the first Bulletin was issued informing members that the Kennet & Avon, Stratford Canal and Suffolk Stour were among their most prominent campaigns. Gain a potted-history of IWA's activities through each decade.

Historical Campaigns: The Inland Waterways Association was formed in 1946 to campaign for the greater use of the waterways and to resist the deterioration and frequent abandonment of the canals that was taking place then. Find out about fight to save the waterways, and of our continuing efforts to improve Britain's unique canals and river navigations in the historical campaigns pages.

Waterways Personalities: Read a brief biography for some of the people who have worked to promote the Association's cause, and left their mark on the inland waterways for the benefit of future generations.

The Golden Age of Canals

about_video220pxWatch BBC4's film The Golden Age of Canals to see a record of IWA's birth and the campaigns the Association undertook to bring waterways back to life.  The film includes home movies from many of the enthusiasts who helped to save Britain's inland waterways.