Waterway restoration

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Part of the Montgomery Canal undergoing restoration Montgomery Canal restoration near Crickheath Wharf August 2007cropped.jpg
Part of the Montgomery Canal undergoing restoration

Waterway restoration is the activity of restoring a canal or river, including special features such as warehouse buildings, locks, boat lifts, and boats. In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, the focus of waterway restoration is on improving navigability, while in Australia the term may also include improvements to water quality. (For water quality improvement activity in the US and UK see stream restoration.)

Canal Man-made channel for water

Canals, or navigations, are human-made channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles.

River Natural flowing watercourse

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.

Warehouse commercial storage building for goods in transit

A warehouse is a building for storing goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, towns or villages.


Waterway restoration in Canada

Shubenacadie Canal

The Shubenacadie Canal Commission was formed in 1986 to oversee the future of this waterway. Locks three and five have been restored, water levels in the connecting lakes have been stabilized and a visitor center opened. The ten year business plan for 2007-2016 aims to save four more locks and rebuild four water control structures to make the route open for small boats from Lake Banook to the village of Shubenacadie.

Shubenacadie Canal watercourse in Canada

The Shubenacadie Canal is a Canadian canal in central Nova Scotia, linking Halifax Harbour with the Bay of Fundy by way of the Shubenacadie River and Shubenacadie Grand Lake. Begun in 1826, it was not completed until 1861 and was closed in 1871. Currently small craft use the river and lakes, but only one lock is operational. Three of the nine locks have been restored to preserve their unique fusion of British and North American construction techniques. More extensive restoration is planned.

Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia Community in Nova Scotia, Canada

Shubenacadie is a village located in Hants County, in central Nova Scotia, Canada. As of 2006, the population was 2074.

Soulanges Canal

The Soulanges Canal closed in 1958. Today there are plans to reopen the canal to pleasure boats. The mission of the Régie intermunicipale du canal de Soulanges is to manage the development of a tourism development as part of the reopening of the canal.

Waterway restoration in Finland

Suvorov military canals

Suvorov military canals (Suvorov canals) is a series of four open canals on Saimaa lake in Finland. Apart from the Kutvele canal, the other three canals spent 200 years almost untouched from early 19th century until 2003, when Finnish National Board of Antiquities began restoration works on them. Now they have been turned into tourist attractions.

Suvorov military canals

Suvorov military canals is a series of four open canals on Saimaa lake in Finland. The four canals of Kutvele, Käyhkää, Kukonharju and Telataipale are located in Puumala, Ruokolahti and Sulkava. They were built between 1791–1798 as part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system and are the oldest canals in Finland. The canals are named after general Alexander Suvorov who ordered their construction.

Saimaa largest lake in Finland and the fourth largest in Europe

Saimaa is a lake in southeastern Finland. At approximately 4,400 square kilometres (1,700 sq mi), it is the largest lake in Finland, and the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe. It was formed by glacial melting at the end of the Ice Age. Major towns on the lakeshore include Lappeenranta, Imatra, Savonlinna, Mikkeli, Varkaus, and Joensuu. The Vuoksi River flows from Saimaa to Lake Ladoga. Most of the lake is spotted with islands, and narrow canals divide the lake in many parts, each having their own names. Thus, Saimaa exhibits all major types of lake in Finland at different levels of eutrophication.

Tar canals

The tar canals in Kajaani were canals and locks built to pass the Koivukoski and Ämmäkoski rapids. First used in 1846, the locks were vital in the transportation of wood pine tar to Oulu. The worn down canals were closed in 1915. Refurbished Ämmäkoski lock was re-opened in 1984, but the Koivukoski canal has been totally dismantled and the site now houses a hydroelectric power plant. The refurbished canal is not used for transport, but in summertime, tar boat shows are organised for tourists. [1] [2]

Kajaani Town in Kainuu, Finland

Kajaani is a town and municipality in Finland. It is the center and capital of the Kainuu region. It is located southeast of Oulujärvi, which drains to the Gulf of Bothnia along the Oulujoki. As of 31 January 2019, it had a population of 36,943.

Pine tar product

Pine tar is a sticky material produced by the high temperature carbonization of pine wood in anoxic conditions. The wood is rapidly decomposed by applying heat and pressure in a closed container; the primary resulting products are charcoal and pine tar.

Oulu City in North Ostrobothnia, Finland

Oulu is a city and municipality of 203,750 inhabitants in the region of North Ostrobothnia, Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the fifth most populous city in the country. There are no larger cities in the world, apart from Murmansk Russia, that are more northerly than Oulu. It is also considered one of Europe's "living labs", where residents experiment with new technology at a community-wide scale.

Waterway restoration in the United Kingdom

Excavation work at Salwarpe on the Droitwich Canal during 1978 Waterway Recovery Group summer work camp. Droitwich canal restoration.jpg
Excavation work at Salwarpe on the Droitwich Canal during 1978 Waterway Recovery Group summer work camp.

Due to competition from the railways and the narrow design of most UK canals (which prevented the carriage of economically sized bulk loads), large parts of the UK's canal system were abandoned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The rise of the leisure industry in the 1950s meant that the complete abandonment of the remaining canals was avoided.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

The increasing use of canals for leisure purposes led some people to consider restoring some of those that had been abandoned. At first, progress was slow due to the lack of funding, with most of the work having to be done manually by volunteers.

As the leisure industry grew, the economic benefits of having a canal became more apparent and some state funding started to appear. At the same time public interest increased the size of various volunteer groups.

At the present time, canal restoration in the UK is carried out by a mixture of volunteers and professionals working on a large variety of projects.

Waterways under restoration

A lock on the Droitwich Canal undergoing restoration Barge lockdrotwitch.jpg
A lock on the Droitwich Canal undergoing restoration

Waterway restoration groups in the United Kingdom

Gough's Orchard lock on the Thames & Severn Canal undergoing restoration by Waterway Recovery Group Gough's OrchardThames & Severn canal 2009.JPG
Gough's Orchard lock on the Thames & Severn Canal undergoing restoration by Waterway Recovery Group

Completed restoration schemes

Waterways are listed in chronological order of re-opening. Most have been completely re-opened, but some (such as the Grand Western Canal and Basingstoke Canal) are only partially complete but have no current plans for work on the rest of the line.

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Grand Union Canal part of the British canal system

The Grand Union Canal in England is part of the British canal system. Its main line starts in London and ends in Birmingham, stretching for 137 miles (220 km) with 166 locks. It has arms to places including Leicester, Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover and Northampton.

River Avon, Warwickshire river in Warwickshire, UK

The River Avon or Avon is located in central England, flowing generally southwestwards; it is a major left-bank tributary of the River Severn, of which it is the easternmost tributary system. It is also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon, to distinguish it from several other rivers of the same name in the United Kingdom.

Kennet and Avon Canal waterway in southern England linking the cities of Reading and Bristol

The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles (140 km), made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and from there to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks.

Wilts & Berks Canal

The Wilts & Berks Canal is a canal in the historic counties of Wiltshire and Berkshire, England, linking the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington, near Melksham, to the River Thames at Abingdon. The North Wilts Canal merged with it to become a branch to the Thames and Severn Canal at Latton near Cricklade. Among professional trades boatmen, the canal was nicknamed the Ippey Cut, possibly short for Chippenham.

Thames and Severn Canal

The Thames and Severn Canal is a canal in Gloucestershire in the south of England, which was completed in 1789. It was conceived as part of a canal route from Bristol to London. At its eastern end, it connects to the River Thames at Inglesham Lock near Lechlade, while at its western end, it connects to the Stroudwater Navigation at Wallbridge near Stroud, and thence to the River Severn. It has one short arm (branch), from Siddington to the town of Cirencester. It includes Sapperton Tunnel, which when built was the longest canal tunnel in Britain, and remains the fourth longest. There were always problems with water supply, as no reservoirs were built, while the summit section near the tunnel ran through porous limestone, and there were constant difficulties with leakage. Competition from the railways took much of the canal's traffic by the end of the 19th century, and most of the canal was abandoned in 1927, the remainder in 1941.

History of the British canal system

The British canal system of water transport played a vital role in the United Kingdom's Industrial Revolution at a time when roads were only just emerging from the medieval mud and long trains of packhorses were the only means of "mass" transit by road of raw materials and finished products. The UK was the first country to develop a nationwide canal network.

Ashton Canal canal in north west England

The Ashton Canal is a canal in Greater Manchester, England.

Canals of the United Kingdom

The canals of the United Kingdom are a major part of the network of inland waterways in the United Kingdom. They have a colourful history, from use for irrigation and transport, through becoming the focus of the Industrial Revolution, to today's role of recreational boating. Despite a period of abandonment, today the canal system in the United Kingdom is again in increasing use, with abandoned and derelict canals being reopened, and the construction of some new routes. Most canals in England and Wales are maintained by the Canal & River Trust, previously British Waterways, but a minority of canals are privately owned.

The Grand Junction Canal is a canal in England from Braunston in Northamptonshire to the River Thames at Brentford, with a number of branches. The mainline was built between 1793 and 1805, to improve the route from the Midlands to London, by-passing the upper reaches of the River Thames near Oxford, thus shortening the journey.

Claverton Pumping Station

Claverton Pumping Station in the village of Claverton, in the English county of Somerset, pumps water from the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal using power from the flow of the River Avon. It is a grade II listed building.

Inland Waterways Association organization

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) was formed in 1946 as a registered charity in the United Kingdom to campaign for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and sensitive development of British Canals and river navigations.

Semington Locks

The Semington Locks are situated at Semington, Wiltshire on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England.

Caen Hill Locks

Caen Hill Locks are a flight of 29 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Rowde and Devizes in Wiltshire, England.

Semington village in United Kingdom

Semington is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The village is about 2 miles (3 km) south of Melksham and about 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Trowbridge. The parish includes the hamlets of Little Marsh and Littleton.

Wendover Arm Canal

The Wendover Arm Canal is part of the Grand Union Canal in England, and forms part of the British canal system. It was planned as a feeder to carry water from springs near the town of Wendover in Buckinghamshire to the main line of the Grand Junction Canal at Bulbourne near Star Top End in Hertfordshire, but when it opened in 1799 it was navigable, as the extra cost of making it so was small. Water supplies from Wendover were found to be inadequate, and a series of reservoirs were built. A pumping station at Whitehouses was superseded by the Tringford pumping station in 1817; its steam engines were replaced by diesel engines in 1911 and then by electric pumps.

Foxton Inclined Plane Trust

The Foxton Inclined Plane Trust is a waterway society and a registered charity on the Grand Union Canal at Foxton, Leicestershire, England, UK. It was founded in 1980 to promote the restoration of the Victorian boat lift or inclined plane, a unique and famous piece of canal history.

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust canal restoration charity in England

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is a registered charity no. 299595, and a waterway society based in Wiltshire, England, concerned with the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

The Berks and Hants Canal, incorporated as the Berkshire and Hampshire Junction Canal Company, was a proposed canal in the English counties of Berkshire and Hampshire. Proposals for the waterway originate after the completion of the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Basingstoke Canal in the 1790s, with a view to connecting the two canals.


  1. City of Kajaani. "Tervakanava", www.kajaani.fi, (in Finnish), Retrieved on 20 March 2014.
  2. Riitta Kankkunen. "The Tar canals Koivukoski and Ämmakoski", The Canals in Finland, Retrieved on 20 March 2014.