The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) History

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Back to 1989


Locks from Todmorden up to the Summit of the Rochdale Canal were officially reopened making almost half the canal navigable although still separated from the rest of the system by the obstuction at Tuel Lane. In August the Queen re-opened the Kennet & Avon Canal - see photograph by Waterway Images.

IWA issued policy statements on Moorings and Towpaths. IWA Membership was calculated at 22,268 but this was to prove an over estimate of between 2,000 and 3,000 when records were computerised a few years later.

IWA National Festival at Gloucester on the Gloucester & Sharpness Ship Canal was sponsored by Volvo Penta and had Sonia Rolt, Charles Hadfield and Sir John Knill as Patrons. The National Trailboat Rally was held at Falkirk on the Forth & Clyde Canal.


A long stoppage took place on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal due to an embankment failure at Blackburn. British Waterways annouced plans to install Fibre Optic Cables under their towpaths. Attempts to fill Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Canal failed due to leakage.

On 10th May 1991, HRH The Duke of Kent formally reopened 32 miles of the Basingstoke Canal.

IWA National Festival was held at Windmill End (see photograph by Waterway Images) on the Dudley Canal. 768 boats arrived and the police estimated that 385,000 people visited. A Campaign Festival, attended by 118 boats and around 10,000 people, was held in June at Sheffield to promote the Sheffield Canal and to get it upgraded from a "remainder" waterway to "Cruiseway" status. The National Trailboat Festival was held at Malthouse on the Norfolk Broads.

In December IWA lost its long running battle for the right of navigation on the River Derwent (Yorkshire) when a decision by the Law Lords ruled against them.


Concerns were raised by the Litchfield & Hatherton Canals Trust over the Birmingham Relief Road which threatened to block the restoration of the Hatherton Branch of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. The road was also planned to cut off the Ridgacre Branch of the Birmingham Canal Navigations and about 50 boats took part in a Protest Criuse but the branch was closed in November.

IWA had supported a group of boaters in a test case to establish if British Waterways had the power to charge for end of garden moorings. In July a judge at Birmingham County Court found in BW's favour.

The National Trailboat Rally was held on the River Tone at Taunton. 520 craft and 375 caravans and tents attended IWA National Festival at Wakefield on the Aire & Calder Navigation. This event is still remembered for the mud caused by the wet weather and for the efforts of the Waterways Recovery Group in keeping the site in a usable condition (photograph by courtesy of Waterways World).


This year was celebrated as "Canal 200" to mark two centuries since the height of canal mania in 1793. The Royal Mail issued a set of four stamps designed by Tony Lewery.

IWA lauched an appeal for the Ashton Nature Reserve on the Montgomery Canal which had to be built before the Ashton Locks could be reopened. The Rochdale Canal received a 602,000 Derelict Land Grant from the Department of the Environment to reconstruct part of the canal near Oldham.

IWA National Trail Boat Festival was held at Chelmsford on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. The National Festival was held at Peterborough on the River Nene where 78,000 people and 487 boats took part. IWA membership was 19,167.


The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal was officially reopened after 20 years of restoration work. The restoration of the Anderton Lift was given the go-ahead with English Heritage granting 500,000 towards the 3 million cost.

David Stevenson retired and was presented with a gift from IWA council by Audrey Smith who took over as IWA Chairman (photograph by Waterway Images). This was also a year when a declining membership (down to 17,730) prompted a debate about the future role of IWA.

The National Trail Boat Festival was held in May on the Grantham Canal and an Inland Waterways Association National Campaign Festival was held Pelsall on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. IWA National Festival was at Waltham Abbey on the River Lee.


With the Environment Agency set to take over the National Rivers Authority (NRA) responsibilities IWA argued for a single body covering both British Waterways and NRA navigations. They also raised concerns that the proposed Landfill Tax would unfairly apply to dredgings from waterways.

The new Pomona Lock opened replacing Hulme Lock as the link between the Bridgewater Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal. Another mile and a half of the Montgomery Canal was reopened below Frankton Locks.

IWA National Trailboat Festival was held at Linthwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The Inland Waterways Association's National Festival at Chester on the Shropshire Union Canal the photograph by Waterway Images shows a Waterways for Youth activity at the Festival.


The Rochdale Canal was reconnected with the waterways system by the opening of the new Tuel Lane Lock. The final length of the Ripon Canal was reopened to Ripon Basin and another stretch of the Montgomery Canal was opened to the Queens Head.

In the Inland Waterways Association Golden Jubilee Year all IWA branches and regions contributed to the Jubilee Jigsaw. The photograph by Waterway Images shows the West Midlands Region contribution.

The Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of 25 million for improvements to the Kennet & Avon Canal.

In early May At Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice IWA took delivery of its own narrowboat Jubilee provided by sponsors. It was also this year that the IWA website was established.

The National Trailboat Festival was held near Welshpool on the Montgomery Canal. IWA National Festival was held at Windmill End on the Dudley Canal. IWA Membership was 17,501.


The Anderton Boat lift trust submitted a bid to the National Heritage Lottery Board and the Millenium Commission anounced a grant of up to 32 million for Scotlands Millenium Link to restore the Forth & Clyde and Edinburgh & Glasgow Union canals plus 2.7 million for the Ribble Link.

A dry summer caused water shortages on some navigation and restrictions and temporary back pumping systems were introduced by British Waterways to keep canals open.

The photograph shows IWA National Festival was held at at Henley on the River Thames, attended by 27,500 people. 558 boat and 336 caravans.


A National Heritage Lottery Grant of 2.2 million was awarded towards the cost of a waterways museum at Banbury, on the Oxford Canal, which was to incorporate Tooley's Boatyard. Exceptionally heavy rain at Easter caused floods on many rivers and canals much damage to boats and other property as well as loss of life.

The IWA Head Office moved from 114, Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 to 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Road, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

IWA National Festival was held at Salford Quays on the Manchester Ship Canal. The photograph shows part of an IWA convoy of boats that crossed the Mersey on the way to the Festival.

In November Audrey Smith retired as IWA Chairman and the post was filled by Richard Drake


The recently reopened Bugsworth Basin on the Peak Forest Canal was used by boats again following problems with leakage. It closed again in the Autumn due to a breach in the entrance canal. The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust secured a section of canal at Over, near Gloucester. The Anderton Boat Lift Trust received a 3.3 million grant for the restoration of the Anderton Boat Lift.

Concerns about the European Recreation Craft Directive were expressed by IWA, particularly in relationship to the noise and exhaust emmissions of historic craft and engines.

The photograph shows IWA National Festival was held at Worcester on the River Severn. IWA membership was 16.869.

Forward to 2000

Copyright The Inland Waterways Association 2004 Notices
The Inland Waterways Association Reg. Office: 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Road, Rickmansworth, WD3 1LT 
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