The Southern Canals Association


It is now widely accepted that the restoration of waterways is both desirable and, as has been shown, in many cases achievable. The re-opening of the Kennet & Avon and the Basingstoke Canals in the 1990s marked significant milestones in the restoration of canals and inland navigations in the South of England. Other restoration schemes in England and Wales, started over the last 30 years, are making impressive progress and, with the Bedford & Milton Keynes link, we are now looking forward to the possibility of the first significant new canal for over 100 years.

All these schemes have relied heavily on the voluntary sector for support both in terms of fund raising and in providing many thousands of hours of increasingly skilled volunteer labour.

For over 30 years the Southern Canals Association has provided an important focus for voluntary trusts and societies involved in promoting waterway restoration. The Association has played a key role in giving these groups access to the wealth of experience and advice available across the whole UK waterways movement. It has also provided an excellent forum for sharing ideas and encouraging restorations which might otherwise fail to attract the support needed to complete the project.

I am confident that our inland waterways will continue to develop and to make an increasingly important contribution to the richness and diversity of our national life through the provision of opportunities for recreation, nature conservation and the appreciation of our industrial heritage.

The Southern Canals Association will, I am sure, continue to play its part in achieving these important objectives. I would therefore urge all inland waterways groups in the South of England and South Wales to support our aims and our shared vision for the future.

Robin Higgs OBE