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British Canoe Union

British Canoe Union
Sport Canoeing
Jurisdiction National
Founded 1936 (1936)
Headquarters National Water Sports Centre, Adbolton Lane, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, NG12 2LU
President Albert Woods
Chairman Brian Chapman
Chief Exec Paul Owen
Replaced British Canoe Association
(founded) 1887
Official website

The British Canoe Union (BCU) is a national governing body for canoeing in the United Kingdom, whose stated purpose is Helping and Inspiring people to go canoeing.[1]


  • History 1
  • Function 2
  • Structure 3
  • Campaigns 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


1887 saw the formation of the British Canoe Association, which lasted about thirty years. Revived in 1933, it merged with the Canoe Section of the Camping Club of Great Britain. In March 1936, representatives of the Canoe Section of the Camping Club, Clyde Canoe Club, Manchester Canoe Club and the Royal Canoe Club formed the British Canoe Union.

It was incorporated as a company on 30 October 1980.

In 2000 the BCU federalised to become the umbrella organisation for the Home Nation Associations in England (Canoe England), Scotland (Scottish Canoe Association – SCA), Wales (Canoe Wales), and Northern Ireland (Canoe Association of Northern Ireland – CANI).

Canoeing refers to the paddling of an open, non-decked craft (though there are decked canoes) propelled by a single-bladed paddle, generally in a kneeling position, while kayaking involves a closed-deck craft driven by a double-bladed paddle from a seated position. The term canoeing in the UK is often used generically to cover both kayaking and canoeing, in contrast to North American usage where the different terms are used.

In 2014 the organisation started rebranding “Going forward, the British Canoe Union, Canoe England & GB Canoeing will be known collectively as British Canoeing.” ( Although this is a slow process


The BCU is responsible for leading and setting the overall framework for the National Associations; representing canoeing interests such as coaching and competition at UK and international level.

It formulates standards for training programmes with certification levels. It administers a range of personal performance awards and coaching awards, some of which are recognised by the UKCC.


The BCU is an umbrella organisation which brings together Britain's separate paddlesport organisations: Canoe England, The Scottish Canoe Association, The Welsh Canoeing Association and The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. It is concerned with all paddlesports in the UK, recreational as well as competitive, in open and closed craft, paddled with single and double-bladed paddles, on inland and coastal waters as well as open ocean.

It is headquartered in National Water Sports Centre, Nottinghamshire, which is also the base of Canoe England. Previously they were based in Bingham, Nottinghamshire.

The organisation creates the rules for competitive canoeing used throughout the UK and has over 30,000 individual members, 625 affiliated clubs and 145 approved centres. It is unique among national sporting certifying bodies in requiring continuous membership for qualifications to remain valid; thus its membership is not strictly voluntary and may not accurately reflect the organisation's popularity.


The BCU has been attempting for over fifty years to increase the extremely limited public access to English and Welsh rivers. It recently started a Rivers Access Campaign which aims to raise public awareness of the problems that kayakers and canoeists face in accessing the rivers of England and Wales (the right to paddle on Scottish rivers is already written into the law). This campaign aims to bring about changes in the law for England and Wales similar to those now established in Scotland that will open up more rivers to the public.

The British Canoe Union's official charity partner is the Canoe Foundation.


  1. ^ BCU

External links

  • Official website
  • Canoe Foundation – Official Charity Partner of the BCU and Home Nation Associations
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