If the World Heritage Site at Ironbridge was the heart of the Industrial Revolution, then the River Severn was the principal artery. However, as with all arteries they can get clogged. During the C19th navigation weirs were constructed to power the Revolution, but these choked the natural heritage of the UK’s longest river. This resulted in the loss of fisheries heritage including sturgeon and allis shad and caused significant declines in other species, notably twaite shad, eel, salmon and lamprey. Today the water quality problems caused by the Industrial Revolution is much improved but the barriers remain.


The Unlocking the Severn Project will address these historic blockages, reopening the entire River Severn and lower River Teme for all fish species. It will reconnect millions of people with their natural and cultural heritage through a little known member of the herring family – the twaite shad – which was favoured in the court of Henry III and economically vital to the Severn Valley prior to the Industrial Revolution.


The project is a partnership between the Severn Rivers Trust, Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England. Funded by the European Union’s LIFE Nature Programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the partnership, this five year project is the largest river restoration of its kind currently running in Europe.


These pages are to provide information whilst a new website is created for the project. If you require further information about the project in the meantime, please see our Contacts page.


The Unlocking the Severn Project is generously supported by the European Union LIFE Nature Programme: LIFE Shad Severn LIFE/15/NAT/UK/000219 and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HG/15/04573).