The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust was formed in 1962 (having been an association since 1951) when the canal had become derelict along most of its 87½ mile length. Having prevented government plans to formally close the canal, the Trust set about restoring it.
This was achieved by lobbying, fund-raising, millions of hours of volunteer work and partnerships with British Waterways and the local Councils.
The passion was sustained for 28 years and the volunteers were finally rewarded when HM the Queen re-opened the canal in 1990.
Work continued in close partnership with British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) to complete the work needed to assure the future of the K&A. With the aid of a £25m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this was achieved in 2003
The restoration has been a huge success and today the canal is used by all members of the community, including walkers, cyclists, anglers, canoeists, boat enthusiasts, and nature lovers.
The Trust is made up of eight branches each covering a stretch of the canal. They act as the local voice of the canal, championing their patch.
History of the canal
The history of the canal extends beyond the formation of the Trust and covers over 200 years. There is a wealth of information to find out; from the original creation of the canal creating a link between Reading and Bristol, the gradual decline and then, where we come in, the restoration.
Queens Award for Voluntary Service
In June 2013, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust was honoured to receive The Queen‘s Award for Voluntary Service, for:
“its leadership of the restoration of the canal and its buildings over the past half century, and for creating a landscape and amenity valued by the whole community”
The Trust today
The Trust is still active today, working to promote the Kennet and Avon Canal to the benefit of all its users, the communities through which it passes, and its heritage.