Since 1986, NRAG has been the major society working with local groups along the entire length of the New River, and with Thames Water Plc, to provide guardianship of London’s legendary New River.
NRAG began to be formed over 1985 and its first meeting was in April 1986. The spur to the creation of the group was the news that the (then) Thames Water Authority was proposing to close the New River south of Cheshunt. The result would be the sale of much of the former river and its corridor for development, with remnants of the course remaining as disconnected ponds without any flow. The valuable river habitat and its green corridor for wildlife linking London with the Hertfordshire countryside would disappear forever.
The groups meeting in 1986 agreed to form the New River Action Group, as a federation consisting of more than forty local amenity, special interest and residents’ associations, with the common link that all had the New River flowing through their area. The member groups had their own memberships ranging from tens, to hundreds, and in some case a thousand or more. The larger societies were often highly influential. The aims of NRAG were to preserve the New River as a flowing waterway, and moreover, to achieve the opening up for residents and walkers of all of the riverside path. Until then, much of the path had been closed, and accessed only by water company staff.