Who are the Canal & River Trust?
The Canal & River Trust (CRT) is a charity that is responsible for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales. As a canal boat holiday operator, Black Prince work with the Canal and River Trust to ensure the waterways are accessible for our guests.
Each winter, the CRT carries out essential repairs and maintenance on its waterways. This work is known as the winter stoppage programme.
Winter Stoppage Programme
The winter stoppage programme is typically carried out between November and March, when fewer boats are cruising the canals. This allows the CRT to close sections of waterways without causing too much disruption to boaters.
The work that is carried out during the winter stoppage programme varies from year to year. However, some of the most common tasks include:
- Repairing masonry and brickwork
- Fixing leaks
- Updating and installing hydraulics and electrics at mechanised structures
- Replacing seals, stop plank grooves, lock ladders and lock gates
- Maintaining towpaths and bridges
The winter stoppage programme is essential for keeping the canals and rivers in good condition. Without this work, the waterways would eventually become damaged and unusable.
The CRT consults with boaters and other stakeholders before finalizing the winter stoppage programme. This helps to ensure that the works are carried out in a way that minimizes disruption.
In recent years, the CRT has been working to reduce the number of winter stoppages. This has been achieved by carrying out some of the maintenance work during the summer months. However, there are still some tasks that can only be done during the winter, such as repairing masonry and brickwork.
Did you know?
- The CRT publishes a list of all the stoppages that will be taking place in the winter. This list is available on the CRT website.
- Boaters and other stakeholders can provide feedback on the winter stoppage programme. This feedback is taken into account when the final programme is drawn up.
- The CRT tries to minimize the disruption caused by winter stoppages. This includes providing alternative routes for boaters and closing waterways only when absolutely necessary.
Here are some examples of winter stoppages that have taken place in recent years:
- In 2022, the CRT closed a section of the Grand Union Canal in Buckinghamshire to carry out repairs to a lock. The closure lasted for two weeks.
- In 2021, the CRT closed a section of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire to carry out repairs to a bridge. The closure lasted for three weeks.
- In 2020, the CRT closed a section of the Oxford Canal in Oxfordshire to carry out repairs to a towpath. The closure lasted for one week.
See for yourself behind the scenes
Get a fascinating insight into the canal winter stoppage programme with C&RT’s video.
Every year they hold a number of open days and invite the public to come and see what they’re up to. Open days at the lock-making workshops, which produce around 180-200 lock gates to be fitted during our winter works are always popular.
Other past open days have seen thousands of people (in single file) descending into a lock, guided heritage walks and boat trips to see work in progress.
The open days are a great way to get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the network, which in some cases only comes around a few times each century.
You can look for upcoming works on our canals by looking at the Canal & River Trust website here.