IWA Timeline: 1971 - 1973


Campaigns and restoration work continued on many waterways and IWA paid the legal costs for setting up the Yorkshire Derwent Trust with the aim of restoring the River Derwent.

The Upper Avon from Evesham to Bidford was reopened and IWA gave Robert Aickman, as Chairman of the Upper Avon Navigation Trust, a cheque for £3,500 as a contribution to the final restoration.  The new Department for the Environment gave a grant of £25,000 for the restoration.  The project manager for the restoration was David Hutchings, whose task it now was to open the river to Stratford.

1971_pollutionNot for the first time, the issue of pollution of the waterways was raised, as well as other long running issues that were always of concern such as commercial carrying, waterside buildings, the environment, etc.

In this, IWA Silver Jubilee, year membership rose to 7,000 and the National Rally was held at Northampton on the River Nene.  As part of the campaign to save the "remainder" waterways rallies were also held at the Tame Valley Canal on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, the Rochdale Canal in Manchester, the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, Caldon Canal, River Ouse (Yorkshire), Erewash Canal, Bidford on the Upper Avon, Bristol Docks and at Sheffield on the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation.


Government proposals to split the management of the waterways (including all British Waterways navigations) between ten regional water authorities was opposed by IWA.  After gathering much support from various bodies and the public, IWA responded with the Waterways Junction report arguing the case in detail.

In March, John Humphries resigned as IWA Chairman to become a Government advisor and Captain Munk returned to his former post until John Heap took over in October.

Following agreement on funding from the local authorities, IWA, BW and other volunteers were mobilised to take part in the restoration of the Ashton Canal. The "Ashton Attack" (ASHTAC for short) followed on from Operation Ashton (1968), and saw approximately 1000 people work on the Ashton Canal and the Lower Peak Forest Canal over a single weekend in March 1972. 

Working parties started work on the Stroudwater and Thames & Severn canals following the formation of the Stroudwater Canal Society.

Over 500 boats attended IWA National Rally at Lymm on the Bridgewater Canal.  Membership rose to over 9,500.


Bedford Corporation gave a grant of £100,000 towards the restoration of the River Great Ouse. IWA and the Grantham Canal Society went from towpath clearing to a campaign for full restoration of the navigation. 

1973_droitwichThe Droitwich Canal Trust was set up with help from Worcester County Council and Droitwich Town Development Committee and, in October, 500 volunteers took part in a big dig.  Support for the Montgomery Canal restoration came from the Prince of Wales Committee.

At Easter, on the Dudley Canal, 320 boats and nearly 5,000 people gathered to mark the reopening of Dudley Tunnel.  On the Erewash Canal the restored Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill was opened in May.

With the Kennet & Avon Canal still not restored after more than 10 years, some IWA members were now suggesting that the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Rochdale Canal should be considered next for restoration.  Others said that this was too ambitious, an argument history would refute some thirty years later.

The Water Bill was published without any proposal to split up British Waterways - a success for IWA's campaign.

IWA's National Rally at Ely, on the River Great Ouse, was attended by 255 boats and visited by about 30,000 people.