About Us: History and the Future of the Trust
The Louth Navigation Trust was formed in 1986
The Trust seeks to enhance the Louth Navigation canal corridor by undertaking sustainable heritage programmes of canal and building restoration, together with the implementation of educational, recreational, environmental and economic projects, for the long term benefit of the community.
Our home - Navigation Warehouse is located in Louth, Lincolnshire, a Georgian market town on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The building is situated ½ mile to the east of the town centre, in a formerly run-down area known as the Riverhead at the terminus of the Louth Navigation, a canal connecting the town with the River Humber estuary some 12 miles distant, which closed in 1924
Louth Navigation canal corridor represents one of the most significant developments in the Industrial Revolution. It was the first commissioned design for a locked artificial waterway in this country, and its designer, James Grundy, was one of the first trained civil engineers. The aims were to overcome transport and drainage difficulties in the Middle Marsh. It played a vital but currently understated role in the history of the Industrial Revolution.
The warehouse, built at the Riverhead c.1770, is mentioned in Padley's 1828 survey of the canal as '..a warehouse at the River Head…consisting of a ground floor and two others, built of brick, covered with pantiles…'.
The canal terminus was constructed to a depth of 6'6", having a width of 66'6". A variety of trades proliferated in the area. Humber Keels and Sloops, Billy Boys, fishing smacks and latterly steam boats used the wharves and warehouses for the import of a variety of goods, including coal and timber and the export of wool and corn. In 1790 more fish was landed in Louth than at the port of Grimsby. The canal became the economic engine of Louth and brought prosperity to the town for many years. The waterway and associated warehousing fell into a slow decline after the advent of the railway in 1846 and eventually closed in 1924. During 1998 and 1999 Louth Navigation Trust together with Groundwork Lincolnshire, purchased and renovated the building which is now called the 'Navigation Warehouse'. Together they have created an exemplar building renovated to the highest environmental standards using the latest green technologies. It now houses on the ground floor a canal information and interpretation centre with displays designed and managed by the Trust.
The Navigation Warehouse opened on 20th May 1999, when representatives from funding organisations celebrated the completion of an innovative and high quality project. On the 21st June 1999 the warehouse was visited by Richard Caborn MP, then Minister of State for Regeneration, who approved of what he saw and supported the future regeneration of the Riverhead area and canal. Since then the warehouse has been used by all sections of the community and established itself as an attractive venue valued by the local community. The history of the warehouse is inextricably linked with the Louth Navigation canal and its restoration is part of a wider strategy by the Trust and its partners to reopen the 12 miles of waterway for navigation from Louth to the sea. Although some small scale remedial work has been undertaken by the Trust, the restoration of the warehouse is seen by the public as the first, highly visible, step towards the renascence of the previously semi-derelict and decaying Riverhead area and canal corridor. The renovation of the warehouse has set a design standard that is a catalyst and benchmark for other restoration work in the area. It sets a precedent for new buildings, including 80 dwellings downstream on a former industrial site, and a new Riverhead Theatre (partly funded by the Arts Council) close by the warehouse.