IWA Timeline: 1956 - 1958


The southern section of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal was faced by the threat of the lowering of the bridge at Wilmcote, which would put an end to future navigation on the canal.

In February, a new independent enquiry into the waterways was set up under the chairmanship of Leslie Bowes.  IWA retained the services of a barrister to prepare its case to the Committee.

In March, the House of Commons removed the provisions to close the Kennet & Avon Canal from the Transport Bill.  The motion to do this was proposed and seconded by two MPs who were IWA Honorary Members.

After ten years, IWA increased its original adult annual subscription from one to two guineas (£1.05 to £2.10).  The Home Counties Branch was established, with John Betjeman as Patron and Captain Lionel Munk as Chairman.

1956_lincoln_rallyIWA North East Midlands Branch organised a Rally at Lincoln, which attracted over a hundred boats.  In October, Captain Lionel Munk of Maid Line Cruisers organised, as he had several times before, a campaign cruise using his hire boats.  This time five boats went from Thames Ditton to the rivers Lee and Stort, achieving publicity in the local and national press.




The Home Counties Branch changed its name to London & Home Counties Branch.  A National Rally of Boats was held at Coventry, the first to be called a "National" since 1950.  This was run by David Hutchings and other Midland Branch members.

The ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn became an IWA Honorary Member and a Patron of the London & Home Counties Branch.  Robert Aickman, through his long association with the world of theatre and ballet, had introduced her to Captain Lionel Munk who asked her to name a new Maid Line Cruiser Maid Margot at the London Boat Show.  The Branch also gained much publicity from its Fly Boat Run, in which members took Maid Mary-Jennifer down the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to London non-stop, arriving at Paddington in 41 hours 48 minutes.

The Lack of a General Secretary and the ill health of Robert Aickman caused a slow down of activities at IWA headquarters and reduced issues of the Bulletin.


In April, Wilmcote Bridge and the future of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, which had been rumbling on for the past two years, took a more optimistic turn at a public meeting at Stratford Town Hall.  The call for the re-opening of the canal received strong public support and The National Trust declared an interest in the canal.

As always, IWA maintained activity over a large number of waterways including the Fossdyke Navigation, Kennet & Avon Canal, River Stour and Derby Canal.

IWA's Head Office moved from 35 Great James Street to 4 Emerald Street, London WC1 .

The Bowes Report was published and lifted the threat of closure from most of the canals in Group 3 of Lord Rusholme's Board of Survey.  The most prominent exceptions to this were the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Captain Lionel Munk was elected IWA Chairman.  Crick Grundy replaced Lionel Munk as chairman of the London & Home Counties Branch and David Hutchings became Midland Branch Chairman.  There was a reorganisation of IWA, in which it became a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee.  Two branches had opposed the change: the North Western and Fenland branches.  Members of these branches went on to form Inland Waterways Protection Society and East Anglian Waterways Association.