THE CANAL PI­O­NEERS

Canal Boat - - News -

Au­thor and Canal Boat con­trib­u­tor An­thony Burton told the story of the con­struc­tion of our wa­ter­ways in his book The Canal Builders ( still in print after 40 years), but this time he takes a wider view – both ge­o­graph­i­cally and chono­log­i­cally. Be­gin­ning right back in the an­cient world with the Egyp­tions con­struct­ing canals to help trans­port stone for the pyra­mids, he takes us through the Ro­man era, the Grand Canal of China, the canal cities of Am­s­ter­dam, Venice and Bangkok, and the 17th cen­tury French canals, to in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and the growth of Bri­tain’s net­work – and then on to the North Amer­i­can wa­ter­ways and the first ship canals. But it isn’t just a de­scrip­tion of the routes – the book cov­ers the de­vel­op­ment of the tech­nol­ogy, from prim­i­tive flash-locks to our fa­mil­iar pound-locks and from early in­clined plane boat-lifts to mod­ern ship-lifts.

The Canal Pi­o­neers, An­thony Burton, Pen & Sword, pen-and-sword.co.uk, £25, 978-1-47386-049-0 AS THE SPRING ap­proaches and with it the sea­son for canal clean-ups, there have been a few sto­ries of un­ex­pected items found in wa­ter­ways around the world. Some turn out less wor­ry­ing than at first sight (such as the crocodile and body dis­cov­ered in the Dutch canals which turned out to be a toy and a blow-up doll re­spec­tively); some more so (like the vi­o­lin case in the Ch­e­sa­peake & Ohio Canal which con­tained a gun). Mean­while vol­un­teers on the reg­u­lar IWA War­wick clean-up should look out for a bunch of car keys, after home-made posters from spurned lover ‘Linda’ ap­peared all round the town in­form­ing the un­faith­ful ‘Gra­ham’: “Locks changed. Cards maxed. Merc keys in canal.”

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