The East Anglian Waterways Association

Promoting access to the navigations of East Anglia for all

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The EAWA campaigns for the preservation, restoration and good management of all inland and tidal waterways in East Anglia.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are a key area along with the main rivers - the Great Ouse, Nene, Welland and Witham.

But our work also covers lesser known waterways from the Chelmer in the south, the Blyth in the east to the Ancholme in the north plus the extensive Middle Level Navigations.

Denver Complex
Glen, Bourne Eau
Middle Level
Stamford Canal
Fens Waterways Link
Witham Navigation
River Ancholme
River Ivel
Shefford Canal

Great Ouse
River Lark
CAM & Lodes
Bedford Link
Sleaford Navigation
River Alde & Ore
River Gipping
Chelmer & Blackwater Canal
River Stour
The Broads

Denver "Complex"

Denver Sluice was first constructed in 1651 to exclude the tidal waters of the River Great Ouse from the South Level rivers.  It was destroyed in 1713 and rebuilt by Swiss engineer, Labelye in 1750. The present Sluice (with alterations made in 1923) dates from 1834 and was built by Sir John Rennie.  The main sluice incorporates one large vertical gate (now permanently sealed) and three smaller 'eyes' plus a navigation lock.  The Denver Complex now includes four additional sluices each serving a vital purpose in flood control or water management plus a Control building and Superintendent's accommodation.   
The A.G. Wright Sluice, first commissioned in 1964, allows water from the Ely Ouse to be diverted in times of high flow into the eleven mile long Relief Channel for discharge closer to Kings Lynn.  
A Diversion Sluice allows water from the Ely Ouse to be sent via the Cut-Off Channel, various Pumping Stations, an underground pipeline and a waterway network for storage in Essex reservoirs.  
The Impounding Sluice allows for flows in the Cut-Off Channel to be 'reversed' in connection with the Ely Ouse/Essex water transfer scheme.
A smaller Residual Flow Sluice maintains a small flow to refresh the Relief Channel and also monitors low flow rates.
The most recent addition to the Denver Complex was a new Navigation Lock, completed in 2002, which now allows boats to navigate the Relief Channel to Downham Market.  It is an aspiration that one day another lock will be incorporated into the Tail Sluice at the Kings Lynn end of the Relief Channel. This would enable craft to navigate safely to Kings Lynn and out into the Wash without using the Great Ouse Tidal River below Denver which has suffered so badly from silting in recent years.

The Glen, and Bourne Eau

Bourne Eau

Photos & narrative about Bourne and Bourne Eau, plus Map of Bourne and the rivers.

EAWA is promoting restoration of Bourne Eau (to connect Bourne to the Glen), the Stamford Canal (a canalised extension of the Welland into Stamford) and Clay Dike, (which connects the Sleaford Navigation to South Forty Foot Drain, via the former Maryland Lock.


Middle Level Navigations

The Middle Level Navigations lie in The Fens between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse, and between the cities of Peterborough and Cambridge. Most of the area through which they run is at or below sea level, and attempts to protect it from inundation have been carried out since 1480. The Middle Level was given its name by the Dutch EngineerCornelius Vermuyden in 1642, who subsequently constructed several drainage channels to make the area suitable for agriculture. Water levels were always managed to allow navigation, and Commissioners were established in 1754 to maintain the waterways and collect tolls from commercial traffic.

Part of the Middle Level Navigations form a key link between the River Great Ouse and the River Nene and access to the canal system.  A secondary route via the Forty Foot River, Welches Dam Lock and the Old Bedford River is closed at present due to deterioration of the lock, water loss in the Forty Foot and neglect of the Old Bedford River, despite this being a statutory navigation which the Environment Agency have a duty to maintain under the Anglian Water Authority Act 1977. Both EAWA and the IWA are campaigning vigourously to ensure that this route is reinstated as soon as possible and not lost for the future.

River Welland between Stamford and Market Deeping

The Stamford Canal

In the Sixteenth century the people of Stamford submitted a petition to the crown asking permission to improve the navigation of the river Welland between Stamford and Market Deeping by creating a new cut to bypass the watermills. A 'Navigation Act' was signed by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1571.

The Fens Waterways Link (including South Forty Foot River)

Following promotion of the restoration of this waterway by East Anglian Waterways Association, Fens Tourism (a consortium of local authorities) undertook a feasibility study of the route. This report was encouraging and EA adopted the project as ‘The Fens Waterways Link’, which it launched in 2004 with support from local authorities, EAWA and IWA..

Witham Navigation Drains

Dolphin makes way for waterway works
Giant concrete blocks removed in first stage of 8 million project

By Graeme Holmes - graeme.holmes AT targetseries.co.uk

A 90 TONNE concrete structure that has stood guard in the Haven river for 50 years has been removed to make way for the new 8 million Boston Lock....


River Ancholme

The River Ancholme is a river in North Lincolnshire, England, and a tributary of the River Humber. The peaceful River Ancholme runs straight as an arrow for 17 miles

It rises south of Bishopbridge (west of Market Rasen), passes through Brigg and flows into the Humber at South Ferriby. There is an historic suspension bridge crossing the navigation at Horkstow .


River Ivel and Shefford Canal

River Ivel, a little-known river that rises near Baldock in Hertfordshire and flows down through Stotfold, Henlow, Langford, Biggleswade, Sandy and Blunham to join the Great Ouse at Tempsford.

River Ivel Navigation

the river from Tempsford to Biggleswade in 1758., to Shefford, 1823

Ivel and Ouse Countryside Project see the Valley History for Ivel Navigation and Water Mills

The Shefford Canal


Richard Smith's Log of a sail around the Great Ouse and Tributaries in July 1976

Ely, popes corner, Old Bedford, River Wissey and Lark!


Compiled by Alan Faulkner

By the beginning of the 1900s the River Great Ouse was effectively closed to navigation from St. Ives upstream from St. Ives up to Bedford as the locks were inoperable. Various attempts were made to re-open some of the locks for pleasure traffic, notably at the Bedford end, but these were short-lived.


River Lark

THE RIVER LARK, An outline history by Alan H. Faulkner.

The River Lark and its Navigation

A recommended external link to the River Lark pages at St Edmundsbury Chronicle 2000 - a wealth of history, surveys and an extensive photographic library.


Cam & Lodes

The Ely Ouse Lodes Strategy Study (pdf)

IWA Branch, Cambridge The river gives access to Reach, Burwell, Swaffham and Wickham lodes
and connects with the Great Ouse.

Conservators of the River Cam - are the statutory navigation authority for Cambridge between The Mill Pond, Silver Street, Cambridge to Bottisham Lock with lesser responsibilities up-stream to Byron's Pool.


Bedford Link

- was established in 1995 to promote the development of a broad waterway which will link the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the river Great Ouse in Bedford

Sleaford Navigation
Latest News of Sleaford Navigation Trust

In all, a total of seven locks were built, of which five were used in order to bypass the water mills. Each lock was 72 feet by 15 feet to allow the passage of the Yorkshire Keels.

Alde Ore


The River Gipping Trust is preserving the historic heritage of the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation by restoring the structures that enabled navigation of the River Gipping from the docks in Ipswich to Stowmarket and caring for the flora and fauna of The Gipping Valley.

CanoeMe - Length of the Gipping by Canoe.


Chelmer & Blackwater Canal

Chelmer Canal Trust
and Work Party

The Chelmer Canal Trust Limited is a registered charity, and voluntary group whose main focus is The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and it's environs.

River Stour

River Stour Trust

Since its formation, the Trust has restored Flatford and Dedham Locks, Flatford Barge Dock (in association with the National Trust), the Quay Basin, Gasworks Cut and The Granary at Quay Lane, Sudbury and rescued an original River Stour Lighter as well as organised regular working parties to maintain the locks and structure in its care.

The Broads

Broads Authority

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is Britain's largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, with the status of a national park. It's also home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK.
The Broads Authority was set up in 1989, with responsibility for conservation, planning, recreation and waterways.

The Upper BURE, Aylsham Navigation!

North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust.

North Walsham and Dilham Canal from Captain Ahabs Watery Tales


The East Anglian Waterways Association is a believer in "Waterways for All" - promoting access to our navigations for the community - whether walkers, nature lovers, anglers, canoeists, boaters or gongoozlers.  We work with and support many local societies, trusts and other user bodies in the area  -  Please visit our LINKS page for more information.
2013 - East Anglian Waterways Association Limited - Reg. 895405    -     Registered Charity No. 251382