THE CANAL PIONEERS
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.”