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Canal & River Trust

Fund manager - Rathbones

The Canal & River Trust is a charity that looks after the waterways of England and Wales.

  • 1913 Number of miles of canals and rivers the Trust looks after
  • 10m Number of people in England and Wales that regularly visit canals or river navigations
  • 700000 Number of volunteers hours given to the Trust


The UK faces increasing rates of obesity, stress and declining mental health. At the same time, heavily-populated communities in England have limited access to green and blue space.​ As the guardian of 1,913 miles of historic inland canals and rivers that run through many of these areas, the Canal & River Trust is uniquely placed to address these challenges in the UK.

It looks after the nation’s third-largest collection of listed structures, including locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels, docks, wharves, historic warehouses, offices and houses, as well as reservoirs, embankments and cuttings, and many important wildlife habitats.


Caring for these features (or assets) is vital in achieving its vision for living waterways that transform places and enrich lives, enabling the waterways to be valued and enjoyed by future generations. The Trust raised social impact investment by issuing a £100,000,000 charity bond with the Rathbones Charity Bond Support Fund (which Big Society Capital invested £30 million into), to attract more visitors to the waterways and museums and support a thriving community of private boaters and boating businesses. Its approach involved local people and volunteers in caring for and improving their local waterway, fostering widespread support for waterways and the activities of the Trust​.


An estimated 8-10 million residents in England and Wales regularly visit canals or river navigations. The Trust’s education programme, which aims to inspire children’s learning by connecting them to our canals and rivers, has reached over 80,000 children. They now have direct connection with 600,000 supporters and have a growing number of volunteers, with people giving over 700,000 hours of their time to support the Trust and put canals and rivers back at the heart of their communities.