The Golden Age of Canals
BBC Four – Available since: Mon 23 May 2011
Canals have been around since 1563. Britain’s first significant canal, the Bridge Water Canal, was used to take coal from Lancashire to Manchester. It was opened in 1761 and soon thereafter canals spread across the country and by the middle of the 1830’s a network linking all of Britain’s major industrial towns and cities had been largely completed. Fed by rivers and reservoirs canals became the ‘life blood’ of the industrial revolution.
After World War II, the canals couldn’t compete with the speed of road haulage and stopped being used for freight. Fortunately, many remained open and are now used by tens of thousands of people for boating, fishing, walking and so on. There are probably more people on the canals today than ever!