Page 1 of 3
Canal and Narrowboat Recommended Reading
> More reading > Jump to Guides and Maps
The following is a selection of titles which will help the reader to learn more about the Britain's canals, inland waterways and narrowboats. This is only a small cross section of the wide variety of books available on the subject, and is only intended as a taster. A quick browse on Amazon.co.uk, using search terms something like "canals waterways narrowboats", for example, will produce a considerable plethora of available titles, including a number which are no longer in print and may only be available as used books.
Below the main list are the details of several other books which I have read and found enjoyable and informative, but which may prove a little harder to find, as some of these I purchased more than 25 years ago. Try Amazon first, but e-bay will probably produce some useful results, too.
To buy any of these books simply click on the image - or the title, where no image is provided - and you will be taken to the relevant page at Amazon.co.uk
Canals Narrowboats and Barges by Tony Conder
Although the days when inland waterways were used primarily for trade have passed, there remains afloat today a great variety of boats that once carried cargoes. This book is mainly an introduction to narrowboats but it also covers wider canal craft and will act as a guide to those who want to search ut the heritage of the working canals.
The illustrations include photographs of boats on the inland waterways today as well as others that show some of the techniques of canal boating and chronicle some of the groups who work to preserve craft and use them for education, pleasure and trade. Older photographs show the working boats against the background of industry and the historic canals. There is a section listing all kinds of contacts, museums and societies, which will help the reader search out craft around the waterways.
Canals and Waterways - History in Camera
Many of Britain's navigable waterways now carry more traffic than they did in the supposed heyday of canals, though the traffic today is pleasure boats rather than commercial craft. This book traces the history of these artificial waterways, from Roman days through to the decline of commercial traffic in the 1950s.
It covers the building of canals, the structures that make them work, their maintenance and the boats that travelled on them. The cargoes carried are given prominence, as are the 'people of the cut'. The last chapter shows the canals in decline, giving some of the reasons for the closure of many waterways, and describing why pleasure boating has now taken over.
Exploring Britain's Canals
This book charts a course along ten of the most interesting canal waterways, many of which are hidden away in areas of outstanding natural beauty deep in the heart of the British countryside.
In addition to the main text, which explores in detail the major canals, this book includes information on the history of each canal, including a colour map; places of interest to visit in the local area; pub and boat trips; and a gazetteer of every national canal.
Narrow Boat by LTC Rolt
First published in 1944, this book has been said by many to have started a revival of interest in the English waterways. It was on a spring day in 1939 that L.T.C. Rolt first stepped aboard Cressy.
This is the story of how he and his wife adapted and fitted out the boat as a home and recreates the journey of some 400 miles that they made along the network of waterways in the Midlands. It recalls the boatmen and their craft, and celebrates the then seemingly timeless nature of the English countryside through which they passed.
Landscape with Canals
L.T.C. Rolt's fame rests on the fact that he was unique in producing works of literature from subject matter which had not before been considered the stuff of literature - engineering, canals, railways, steam engines, agricultural machinery and vintage cars - as demonstrated in his biographies of Brunel, Telford, Trevithick and the Stephensons. This work takes up the story from "In Landscape with Machines". It tells of voyages through the secret green water-lanes of England and Wales, and of the beginning of his writing career with the publication of his book "Narrow Boat".
Inland Waterways of England
An excellent introduction to the history of the inland waterways of England, the varied craft that used them and the people who worked and lived on and around them.
Written originally at a time when the system was on the verge of nationalisation in 1948, it is also a record of the state of the waterways and it's people at that time. The third impression (that I own) contains an additional Preface by the LTC Rolt
This history of the canals of Britain and Ireland is the definitive study of how canals emerged from the surge of energy, enterprise and technology of the eighteenth-century.