Canal Heritage, History and Culture

The rich history and culture of UK canals

The ‘Canal Age’, although short, was revolutionary, responsible for opening up Britain to the Industrial Revolution, much as the Internet is now opening up the world in the Information Revolution. Rural people flocked to factories and mills, their life and environment, and the shape of the nation and the world, being irreversibly changed. Then Canal People drifted apart from land locked 18th and 19th century Britain, developing their own free-floating canal culture, traditions, customs, ways of work and dress.

There’s a lot of history alongside our canals as well, taking you to the heart of famous cities such as Chester and Warwick, through historic sites such as civil war battlefields and past stately homes, castles and follies.


Our Canal Heritage

Our Canal Legacy

  • Canal Engineering

    Building the English canals was a stupendous undertaking, transforming the countryside and man's place in it using private capital and over a short fifty-year period.

  • Canal History

    An essential part of the Industrial Revolution, canals took raw materials in and finished products out, changing landscape & lives.

  • Canal Museums

    The best places to see the story of the changes that the canals wrought are in the waterways museums.

  • Canal Resources

    Canal books and DVD materials, maps & guides, waterways magazines.

Boats & Boat People

Boats & Boat People

  • Horse Drawn Boats

    Horses are an important part of canal history, hauling canal boats into the middle of the 20th century, but their story gets overlooked in this mechanical age.

  • Boats and barges

    Canal narrowboats, canal & river barges, and lots of other UK inland craft. Many original photos.

  • Canal Working Life

    What was canal life like for working boat families, travelling the country on a narrowboat, bringing up a family in a one roomed wooden cabin about the size of a small shed?

Canal Art & Crafts

Canal Art & Crafts

  • Canal Folk Art

    'Roses & Castles' and narrowboat and barge signwriting and decoration are strikingly unique, and their origins are mysterious. Our full section has been specially written for us by the acknowledged expert, Tony Lewery.

  • Canalware & Crafts

    Links to canal artists & canal crafts people, painters and suppliers of traditional canalware.

  • Painters & Paints

    Links to working canal boat painters, signwriters and decorators and links to companies supplying paint and painting supplies for canal boats.

Caring for Canals

Caring For Canals

  • Canal Speakers

    Want an expert to talk to your group about a waterways issue? try our NEW listing of canal speakers.

  • Off the Mainline

    Explore journeys through waterways heritage issues, providing an insightful & refreshing alternative view.

  • Canal Restoration

    A great success story, bringing back to life long closed waterways. But there's plenty more to do!

  • Canal Societies

    Many canals and restoration projects have their own Canal Society websites, dedicated to their study, promotion and/or restoration.

Along the Canals

Along The Canals

  • Canal Environment

    Canals provide ribbons of natural environment preserving many countryside plants and creatures as they were before factory farming took over the landscape.

  • Canal Pubs

    You can't enjoy the canals without sampling some of essential tradition of the canal pub, placed at frequent intervals to quench boatmen's thirsts.

  • Castles on the Waterways

    England and Wales are famous for castles, signs of our more turbulent past. Many are visible or within convenient distance from a canal or navigable river.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. No unauthorised reproduction.

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