England’s Canals – Are they just rubbish?


Angel Community Boat. Photo (c) Canal Voyagers Ltd.

Angel Community Boat. Photo (c) Canal Voyagers Ltd.

The Camden New Journal recently reported a dramatic increase of litter building up in London’s Regents Canal. The Regents Canal begins at Little Venice in Maida Vale and runs east through London Zoo, Camden and Islington, finally meeting the River Thames at Limehouse.

Local residents and London boaters have noticed less geese, ducks, and cormorants around Kentish Town Lock this year and believe that the litter is keeping wildlife away.  Rubbish such as floating beer cans can be unsightly but larger items such as shopping trolleys and traffic cones can become damaging to boat propellers when lurking unseen below the water. The chairman of The Friends of Regents Canal Group said that Camden Lock is one of the biggest sources of rubbish in the canal.

The good news

The Canal and River Trust organise volunteers to litter pick and regularly empty the towpath bins but litter is a problem in urban areas across the canal network. At the beginning of July, as the Trust celebrated its first birthday, it also launched their Adopt a Canal campaign. While a minority of litter-droppers do not respect the canal, local community groups are often keen to improve their local waterway. A great example of that is the Blisworth Canal Partnership (featured in this short film). They formed with a shared goal to improve their local canal. Their fund raising event, The Blisworth Canal Festival has grown from 200 people at the first one, to 20,000 in 2012. This year’s event is next weekend on 10th and 11th August.

Boating for all

The NCBA and its membership organisations promote access to the water itself, encouraging the use of community boats by local communities. As well as protecting the environment we encourage community groups, disadvantaged and excluded groups to come and enjoy boating on England’s canal network. Local community groups can contact us to find out how we can help with their projects and individuals can get involved by volunteering, or accessing our training courses.

Not rubbish!

The Regents Canal is home to The Angel Community Canal Boat Trust, Camden Canals and Narrowboat Association and The Pirate Castle, all providing valuable boating experiences for the community. Support community boating and become part of the solution!

“You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”  

Cleaver, Eldridge



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  1. mcsharry4 8th August 2013 at 13:58 - Reply

    Great post. I have recently addressed this issue in my blog too, and i think i might reference this post in it, because this is brilliant! Check out my blog and see what you think maybe?

    • Peggy 11th August 2013 at 14:29 - Reply

      Lovely blog you have there: I have just signed up to follow it 🙂

  2. mcsharry4 17th August 2013 at 19:34 - Reply

    Reblogged this on Canal Works and Nature and commented:
    Anybody interested in the issues I brought up a few days ago can go to this article and read more:

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