The canal history SPOT­TERS’ GUIDE

Canal Boat - - Feature - WORDS & PIC­TURES BY MARTIN LUDGATE

You’re at the tiller of your boat on a quiet, ru­ral length of canal, idly won­der­ing how far the next lock is. You hap­pen to glance across to the tow­path and spot an old sign de­not­ing ‘¾’. Three-quar­ters of what? A few yards fur­ther along, there’s a rusty old length of rail­way line, half buried in the un­der­growth. Where did it go?

You look away from it to con­cen­trate on your steer­ing for a while, as the canal narrows down to just over 7ft wide for

Wher­ever you cruise wa­ter­ways her­itage is all around, so we’ve picked 20 pieces of more un­usual canal history for you to look out for on your trav­els

30 yards or so. Why? There’s no ob­vi­ous rea­son: it doesn’t look like there’s ever been a bridge or a lock here.

As with so many of the fea­tures of our canals, these are relics from the canals’ work­ing days. But un­like the locks, the bridges, the tun­nels and the aque­ducts which we still use for their orig­i­nal func­tion, it isn’t al­ways ob­vi­ous what their pur­pose was. So we’ve picked 20 dif­fer­ent his­toric wa­ter­ways fea­tures for you to look out for on your trav­els.

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