The prospects for the waterways looked better than at any time since the founding of IWA, with local authorities increasingly look to improve rather than close their local waterways and canal carrying now being subject to much more favourable terms. The new attitudes at British Waterways meant that volunteers were, in some cases, now being welcomed instead of being forbidden to touch the waterways as had been the case at the Stourbridge Canal in 1962.
There was still much to be done with the Kennet & Avon, Rochdale, Shrewsbury & Newport, Caldon and Peak Forest canals, as well as other waterways, still in a poor state. These included the flight of locks at Runcorn on the Bridgewater Canal and the Runcorn & Weston Canal.
IWA's Head Office moved from 4 Emerald Street to 114 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1. The formation of a "Waterways Trust" was proposed by IWA. This would be a charitable body with financial support from the Government.
The deteriorating state of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and concerns for its future led to IWA's National Rally being held at Blackburn. Mr & Mrs Joe Skinner were awarded the Alfred Ritchie Challenge Cockerel for the best working boat Friendship.
Another significant idea came from Tim Dodwell of the London & Home Counties Branch, who suggested forming a group of volunteers to work on various canal restoration projects wherever they were required.
Twenty years after founding IWA, Robert Aickman resigned from its Council following policy disagreements with Captain Munk. John Betjeman was made an IWA Vice-President.
IWA (now with over 4,250 members) looked back on its first 20 years and congratulated itself on the change of attitude it had brought about both in government and the public towards waterways and canals in particular. In 1946 they were seen as the decaying remains of a system that should have been buried with the coming of the railways. Now they were recognised as a national asset that could be used for commerce and recreation on and beside the water. Looking forward, there was still an immense amount of work to be done, derelict canals to be restored, threatened waterways to be saved, heritage and environment to be protected and facilities to be improved.
In response to British Waterways' report Facts about the Waterways, issued the previous December, IWA decided to change its general policy of co-operation with BW to an independent assessment of each case, co-operating in the cases where benefits could be obtained but criticising policies that they opposed. On the 1st May a Silver Sword scheme was launched to encourage members to cruise extensively throughout the year.
On the Kennet & Avon Canal, Sulhampstead Lock was rebuilt and a start was made on re-puddling the dry section at Limpley Stoke. The first Navvies Notebook was published in October giving all the news for waterway restoration volunteers. The first work towards restoring navigation on the Upper Avon was started and an appeal for money was launched.
IWA's National Rally was held at Marple on the Peak Forest Canal and on the threatened Cheshire Ring. It attracted a record attendance of 250 boats.
This was the first year that the London Boat Show had an inland waterways of England theme.
Some encouraging news came from the Caldon Canal, where commercial traffic returned in the shape of the Milton Maid, a new boat designed to carry pottery to the packing depot. British Waterways also ended its policy of padlocking lock gates "out of hours" on many of its waterways. The Sixteen Locks on the Stourbridge Canal were re-opened by John Morris MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, who made an enthusiastic speech about the waterways network.
The future of the canals had still not been secured, and in anticipation of another unsatisfactory Transport Bill IWA planned a National Waterway Week for October with petitions and demonstrations of various kinds on and off the waterways. However, in September, a White Paper was introduced that was so favourable to IWA's case that Waterways Week was postponed indefinitely.
About 350 boats attended IWA's National Rally at Leicester, which was officially opened by the Lord Mayor Sir Mark Henig. There were now over 5,000 IWA members.