UK Canal and River Trust publishes its Heritage Report

The Canal and River Trust has released its 2015/2016 heritage report focusing on the actions it is taking to preserve its areas’ historic significance for the future.

It reported that at the end of 2015/16 there were 24 individual assets on the national and local Heritage at Risk (HaR) registers, as well as 31 conservation area HaRs through which its waterways pass.

“It’s heartening to see that the passion, expertise and hard work of our employees and volunteers is having a positive effect on the heritage in our care,” said Richard Parry, chief executive at the Canal & River Trust.

“Despite the devastation caused by the flooding in the north of England last winter which damaged several heritage structures, we have continued to improve the overall condition of the historic locks, bridges, aqueducts and tunnels that are used and enjoyed by millions of people.

“It’s a great compliment that Historic England has recognised our impressive compliance record and chosen to work with us on a National Listed Building Consent Order.”

As part of the £43.7m spent on inspections and works to its waterways in 2015/16, the Trust carried out works on 194 listed or scheduled canal structures.

There was no net increase or decrease in the overall number of heritage assets on the registers compared with last year – but there was some movement within the Trust’s waterway regions.

The North West has gained an additional asset at risk, Stainton Aqueduct (Grade II), due to the 2015 winter floods.

Positively, the West Midlands region saw the removal from the local authority HaR register of James Bridge Aqueduct following repairs and road lowering, which will protect it from further damage.

There is also positive news for the future as work progressed at Soulbury Pumphouse on the Grand Union, the Birmingham Roundhouse, Saul Junction Lock and Fox’s Kiln at Gloucester Docks and several of these could be removed from registers in 2016/17.

Volunteers play an important part in supporting the Trust’s heritage activity and in the past year 1,209 hours were given by volunteers working with the Trust’s heritage team.

Volunteers have been involved in all areas, including historical research, making heritage assessments and conservation management plans, practical works and recording historic structures.

Incidents that affected waterways heritage were down 25% on the previous year, with just under 800 recorded, the most common cause of damage was vandalism – over 30% involving graffiti.

A similar number of incidents involve damage caused by boats (34%) with 16% caused by vehicles striking historic structures.

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