About Us: History and the Future of the Trust

The Louth Navigation Trust The Trust was formed in 1986 by a small group of local people dedicated to achieving the aims set out below. From small beginnings the Trust now has over 250 members, many of whom are actively involved in the running and organisation of the trust. It is entirely run by volunteers and has never employed paid staff. The trust gained charitable status in 1998. It has a modest turnover of less than 5000 per annum.

Much of the Trust's energy is channeled into working in partnership with other voluntary organisations, local authorities, and other statutory bodies to promote its aims. In recent years the Trust has produced planning recommendations and development briefs which have been well received by the local community. The Trust operates from the Navigation Warehouse and is involved with many other projects and events related to the canal. The following are some of the activities which the Trust runs or is involved with:

On-going programme of educational walks and talks2014 AGM Talk
Publication of 'The Louth Navigation - a history' and 'People and Boats'
Towpath maintenance programme
Rubbish clearance from the canal
Erection of way signs
Installation of milestones
Louth Sunday Markets
Northern Canals events and Water Festivals
Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festivals
Annual Tetney Raft Race
Boules matches at Ticklepenny Lock
Photographs of Activities (click here)

2014 AGM Talks

The Trust is an active member of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA); Canal and River Trust, Northern Canal's Association; AINA and IWAAC.

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.

The 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 mile to the east of the town centre, in a 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 and is now disused.

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' and 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 The 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 interactive 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 semi derelict and decaying Riverhead area and canal corridor. The renovation of the warehouse has set a design standard that will be the catalyst and benchmark for all other restoration work in the area, together with setting a precedent for new buildings, including 80 dwellings downstream on a formal industrial site, and a new Riverhead Theatre (partly funded by the Arts Council) close by the warehouse.

Louth Navigation: Feasibility Report Launched January 2006

Feasibility Report Launched January 2006.pdf