Canal & River Trust

Canal & River Trust
trades as Glandwr Cymru (Waterside Wales) in Wales
Motto Living waterways transform places and enrich lives.
Predecessor British Waterways
Formation 2 July 2012 (2012-07-02)
Merger of The Waterways Trust
Type Non-governmental organisation
Registration no. 1146792
Legal status Charitable trust
Purpose Responsible for 2,000 miles of canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs, along with museums, archives and the country's third largest collection of protected historic buildings.
Headquarters Milton Keynes
Region served
England and Wales
Friends of the Canal & River Trust scheme[1]
Official languages
English and Welsh
Chief Executive
Richard Parry
Allan Leighton
HRH The Prince of Wales
Main organ
Board of Trustees

The Canal & River Trust (acronym CRT or C&RT) is a charitable trust set up to manage the navigable waterways of England and Wales. Transfer of 'ownership' from British Waterways (the previous government-owned operator), took place on 2 July 2012.[3] Those navigable inland waterways [which are] currently managed by the Environment Agency were scheduled for transfer to the trust in 2015[4] but this has been postponed indefinitely.


The Canal & River Trust was born of the managerial and financial short-comings of its predecessor, British Waterways (BW) in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.[5]

British Waterways as a statutory corporation was regulated latterly by the 1995 British Waterways Act and [largely] financed by government (via DEFRA) but deemed to be run inefficiently and wastefully.[5] It came under increasing scrutiny of a concerned government and, when its budget deficit hit £30m in 2009 British Waterways was tasked with producing a workable solution. BW began to look at devolving to a charitable trust, a concept which gained momentum when the 2010 [Spring] Budget, announced its intention to demote British Waterways to a mutual organisation.[6] In August 2009, BW was listed on a leaked list of quangos to be abolished.[7][8] BW's future demotion was sealed in October 2010.

The BW board decided that a volunteering element would be desirable, an operating environment seen to be fit for purpose necessary and a secure income stream essential. These elements were most likely to be enabled by re-invention of BW as a charitable trust. "Secure income" might be assured through grants, public donations and subvention from government, the waterways could be underwritten by a substantial property endowment as BW managed a portfolio in excess of £500M , while volunteers and donors might be attracted towards a charity (see charitable trusts in English law) more readily than to a quango.

In October 2011, BW announced a name and logo for a charitable trust which would inherit its English and Welsh operations: – the Canal & River Trust for England and Glandwr Cymru (Waterside Wales) for Wales.[9] CRT received charitable status in April[10] and received parliamentary approval in June.[11] The change, originally set for 1 April 2012, was later delayed.[4] In July 2012 all BW assets, liabilities and responsibilities in England and Wales were transferred to the Canal & River Trust: launched officially on 12 July 2012. Later that year, the Canal & River Trust merged with the England and Wales operations of The Waterways Trust, a charity previously affiliated to British Waterways, to avoid confusion and as both charities have similar aims.[12]

BWML, a private company limited by guarantee, is wholly owned[13] by the Canal & River Trust and manages some twenty marinas dotted all over the region. It involves retail sales, moorings and services and also acts as a shop front in the issue of e.g. short-term licences.

In Scotland British Waterways continues to operate as a stand-alone public corporation under the trading name Scottish Canals.[14][15]


The trust is headed by a board of 10 trustees with a Chairman, which is obliged to ensure that the charity meets its objectives[16] and sets strategy for the trust. The trust has a 35-member council which referees the business of the trust and whose construction is supposed to ensure that all waterways users, in all areas, have a representative voice. Finally, a management board of seven directors are collectively concerned with the ordinary running of the trust. (See Charitable Trusts in English Law).


The Canal & River Trust has a governing council of 35 members. Members of the first council included a mix of nominated and elected individuals. Council advises on shaping policy, raising and debating issues, providing guidance, perspective and a sounding board for the trustees.[17]


For each of the trust’s eleven waterway areas there is a regional partnership drawn from local communities. In addition an all-Wales partnership will consider issues relating to Welsh waterways and a separate partnership exists for the trust's museums and attractions.[18]


The trustees are legally responsible for ensuring that the trust meets its charitable objectives. Trustees are the unpaid board directors of the trust, they take collective decisions on policy and overarching strategy and provide oversight of the executive directors.[19] Trustees are responsible for determining policy and strategy.


Executive directors manage the everyday operation of the trust and develop policy and strategy for approval by the trustees.[20]


The trust is supported through a number of advisory committees covering a range of different areas from freight and navigation to volunteering and heritage. These groups will provide advice direct to the management of the trust.[21]

The trust's head office is in Milton Keynes. It also operates eleven local offices that deal with the general maintenance of the waterways in their area.[22] These offices are based on the Waterways Partnership regions which are:


The Trust receives a fixed grant from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over the next 15 years.[23] Its major other sources of income are from utilities (including fibreoptics and water sales) and property rentals from a £500m property endowment granted by Government. It also receives an income from issuing licences for boats using and mooring on the waterways [24] and has been given a funding pledge by the People's Postcode Lottery over £1m.

Supporters and corporate partners

The Prince of Wales is the patron of the Canal & River Trust and Brian Blessed supports the trust's volunteer appeal.[25]

In June 2012 the trust announced three major corporate partners to support the Canal & River Trust:

Waterways operated

The Canal & River Trust is the owner or navigation authority for over 2,000 miles of waterways.[29] These are:


The Canal & River Trust operates several museums and visitor attractions that relate to canals and waterways.

See also


  1. "Become a friend of the Canal & River Trust | Canal charity | Donate". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  3. "Canal and River Trust takes over from British Waterways". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  4. 1 2 "The inland waterways managed by the Environment Agency will transfer to the new waterways charity from 2015/16, subject to the next spending review and the agreement of the charity’s trustees." "Over £1 billion investment secures future of new waterways charity". Defra. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  5. 1 2
  6. "Budget plans to give British Waterways independence". BBC News. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  7. "Leaked list suggests 180 quangos to be abolished". BBC News. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  8. "Cabinet Office list, dated 26th August 2010, of quangos to be axed or "merged" by the coalition government..." (PDF). BBC News. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  9. "New name for Britain's new waterways charity". Canal & River Trust (Originally published by British Waterways). 6 October 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  10. "Canal & River Trust gets charitable status". Third Sector. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  11. "Canal & River Trust Approved by Parliament". RYA. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  12. "Canal and River Trust". The Waterways Trust. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  13. ?
  14. "Additional Functions". Developing Scottish Water. The Scottish Government. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  15. "Our Structure and Governance". Scottish Canals.
  16. ??
  17. "The Council". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  18. "Waterways Partnerships". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  19. "Trustees". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  20. "Directors". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  21. "National Advisory Groups". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  22. "Contacting your local office". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  23. "Over £1 billion investment secures future of new waterways charity « Defra News". 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  24. "Licensing". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  25. "Waterways World". Waterways World. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  26. "Canal & River Trust News | Major corporations pledge support to the Canal & River Trust". 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  27. "Canal & River Trust gets first corporate partners on board". 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  28. "Major players come on board ahead of Canal & River Trust launch - Towpath Talk Newspaper Magazine". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  29. "Canals and Rivers". Canal and River Trust. Retrieved 2 September 2013.

External links

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