First published in 1989, this booklet’s origins go back further – as the introduction points out, the term ‘narrowboat’ usually refers to modern leisure craft today, but this the author is concerned with the carrying craft in regular use carrying long-distance traffic from the earliest days of the canal system until 1970. A brief history follows their development from the choice of the 70ft by 7ft size (at a meeting in an inn in Lichfield in 1769), through the early wooden horse-boats to steam, diesel and the steel craft of the 20th Century. Life in the tiny cabins is described, the distinctive painting and decoration of the boats, and the background to their final decline. In just 64 pages it gives a concise and thorough all-round picture of the iconic working craft of our canals.
Narrow Boats, Tom Chaplin, Amberley, anberley-books.com, £8.99, 978-1-4456-6997-7