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 has opened up the world in the Information Revolution. Rural people flocked to factories and mills, their life and environment, and the shape of the nation, becoming irreversibly changed. The canal builders were the first civil engineers and along with their itinerant ‘navies’, changed the landscape in a way that few had done before them. Then the 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 too, taking you to the heart of famous cities such as Chester and Warwick, historic sites such as civil war battlefields, stately homes, castles and follies.

Canal Bridge

History of Canals

Canals have been a part of human history for centuries, and by understanding what made them possible and how they shaped our world today, we can appreciate their importance even more.

Canal Engineering and Architecture


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

Canal Folk Art - Roses and Castles by Tony Lewery

Canal Folk Art

'Roses & Castles' and narrowboat and barge signwriting and decoration are strikingly unique and mysterious. Specially written for us by the acknowledged expert, Tony Lewery.

Narrowboats & Barges - Traditional canal and river craft

Narrowboats & Barges

Find out more about canal narrowboats, canal & river barges, and lots of other UK inland craft. Written by Tony Lewery with many original photos.

Heritage Matters

Volunteers prevented canals becoming derelict and have since restored many more. Why we need canals and how to get involved in supporting them.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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