Friends make a difference

Creating new homes for water voles, giving a derelict dry dock a makeover or improving towpaths in Devizes: your donations are making a huge difference across the entire length of our network.

Friends community


As the Canal & River Trust’s work covers so many different areas, from infrastructure to health and wellbeing, the money that is donated by Friends helps to improve, maintain and create a wide range of projects. “Your support is hugely important and 100% of your donations go towards our work to restore, enhance, conserve as well as educate people about our canals and rivers,” says Gemma Armes from the supporter care team. “So your gift could create a new habitat for water voles in Wolverhampton, give a derelict dry dock a makeover in Ponty or help towards essential everyday repairs and improvements. Our Friends really do make life better by water.” Here are just a few of the projects that have been made possible thanks to your donations.

A trip to the museum

The National Waterways Museum in Gloucester contains thousands of fascinating exhibits, helping visitors to understand and explore the history of the waterways. A £1.5 million three-year project to revitalise the museum was completed in 2018 thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Friends’ donations and many other generous supporters. Timed to coincide with the museum’s 30th anniversary, this created a dramatic new glass entrance way and also saw the adaptation of a cargo boat built in 1944 so it could be used for events, meetings and education.

The nuts and bolts

If the canal isn’t kept in good nick, none of us can use it and so maintaining and improving the canal is a major element of the Trust’s work. Friends’ donations helped towards this essential work and make sure it is possible. Improvements have included a major project of 90 individual pieces of work around the Marple Aqueduct and lock flight – repairing stone quadrants, creating new paths for disabled access and restoring brickwork on the historic aqueduct. You have also helped improve the towpath at Devizes, making the canal more accessible for users, and fund the emergency repairs after a major breach at Middlewich on the Shropshire Union.

Giving water voles a helping hand

The beloved water vole is in national decline, but the Canal & River Trust is hoping to restore numbers. Friends’ donations helped pay for the restoration of eroded sections of river bank on the River Stort and alongside the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Coir rolls are planted, which protect against erosion and at the same time provide food and shelter for animals such as the voles that live along the canals and rivers of the UK.

Bringing more people to our waterways

The Canal & River Trust want to place canals at the centre of communities and are always looking for new ways to attract people to the water. At Trevor basin close to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, donations from Friends helped repair a derelict drydock. This is now home to Butty & Sweet, run by Mandi and Dave, who rustle up delicious sandwiches, cream teas and other refreshments to the numerous sightseers, cyclists and walkers in the area.

In the arts

The Ring was an imaginative and exciting multi-disciplinary arts project that took place at various locations in the Mid-Worcestershire Ring as part of the national Arts On The Waterways programme. Performances, readings and an exhibition took place over seven months and although The Ring has finished, its legacy continues in the form of Lucy McLauchlan’s extraordinary monochromatic mural, “Opening The Floodgates”, at Diglis Oil Basin. This magnificent 80-metre artwork in Worcester was inspired by life under the water as well as the people who live and work on the waterway. It’s a temporary installation, but remains visible until 2020.

Thank you for joining us as a Friend of the Trust and helping us to deliver such important projects across our historic waterways. Don’t forget, as well as receiving Waterfront magazine and regular newsletters and films to help bring our canals and rivers to life, being a Friend of the waterways can also bring unexpected benefits. Thanks to the generosity of our corporate supporters, you can get exclusive discounts on a wide range of things that will help you get even more out of your visits to our canals, rivers and towpaths. Not least this includes discount to the iconic Crick boat show. Visit our website to find out more.

Josh Drewe