British Waterways has announced that the Kennet & Avon Canal is now classified as having ‘cruiseway’ status.
The reclassification, backed by British Waterways, The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and Trade Association, and by canal supporters including NABO, means that the historic, 87-mile long waterway has been upgraded from ‘remainder’ status – one step above a derelict canal – to that of a national ‘cruiseway’.
This important decision comes following a year of celebrations to mark the canal’s 200th anniversary. It’s also 20 years since the navigation was reopened to the public and 10 years after the hugely successful Lottery supported restoration project.
British Waterways’ waterway manager, Mark Stephens said: “British Waterways has, in reality, been managing the Kennet & Avon Canal as if it has had cruiseway status since its multi-million pound restoration.
“We think that the formalisation of this status is beneficial to the canal, helping to secure its long term future by legally stating that the canal should be maintained to a level whereby cruising craft, such as narrowboats, can safely navigate the length of the canal. British Waterways believes that this is the appropriate classification for this popular and much-loved waterway. We will continue to maintain the canal, working with our partners and users, helping to ensure a balance of interests along the waterway and respecting the wonderful environment the canal offers.”
Mike Rodd, chairman of The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust Council, adds: "This is wonderful news that begins another chapter of the history of our Trust and our waterway.”
BW regards the Kennet & Avon Canal as a blueprint for successful waterway restoration and regeneration. The restored canal managed by British Waterways, working with volunteers from the local community and local authorities, is one of the inspirations behind plans to establish a new ‘national trust’ for the waterways.