Welcome to the 2018 season

Our website will shortly be updated so that you can book and pay for your paddling online. Until then, reach us by phone, or by email at enquiries@chesterkayakhire.co.uk, where there will always be a prompt and friendly reply. See you on the river soon!

Tel: 01244 422007

What is the role of the British Canoe Union?

The British Canoe Union (BCU) was originally founded in 1887 as the British Canoe Association, but was disbanded after 30 years. Following this, it was reformed in 1933 and merged with the canoe section of the Camping Club of Great Britain.

Three years later, further mergers with the Royal Canoe Club, Clyde Canoe Club, and Manchester Canoe Club enabled the organisation to be enhanced and form the current association as it is recognised today. However, it was not incorporated as a company until October 1980.


The BCU acts as an umbrella organisation that presides over the home countries separate associations: Canoe England, the Welsh Canoeing Association, the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Canoe Association.

The headquarters of the BCU is at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, which is also the home of Canoe England. Prior to this, it was based in Bingham, Nottinghamshire.

Duties and responsibilities

The BCU is responsible for many aspects of the day-to-day running of canoeing in the UK, and one of its biggest is to lead and set the standards for each of the four national associations. As a part of this role, it represents British canoeing at competitions, both at the national and international level.

It also helps to generate and support people showing interest in the sport, by offering courses on coaching, as well as formulating training programmes with recognised and certified qualifications. Many canoeists need to keep these certificates up to date, as the qualifications are specified in the criteria for membership. The BCU is responsible for administering a range of awards, including in personal performance and coaching, some of which the UKCC (UK Coaching Certificate) recognises.

As part of its responsibilities, the BCU concerns itself with all paddle-sports in both recreational and competitive formats across inland and coastal waters, as well as on the open ocean.

Another of the duties of the BCU is to create the rules and regulations for competitive canoeing across the UK. This sport has more than 30,000 individual members registered to 625 affiliated clubs, with 145 approved centres.

Current campaigns

One of the most current drives that the BCU is spearheading is further rebranding and development of the organisation.

The process has been named as the Can Do campaign, with the marketing push designed to inspire the public to give the sport a chance, as well as to get involved by visiting their local clubs or canoe hire services. By generating more of an interest, it is hoped that larger numbers of people will take up the sport, whether canoeing in Chester, Cumbria or Cambridge.

As part of this rebranding, the association conducted research into what both canoeists and non-paddlers thought about the sport and how it can move forward. This has led to a merger with Canoe England and GB Canoeing to create the organisation British Canoeing. The change has been identified as a slow process, so that it can save money and use it where it should be going, which should help people who want to canoe.