Monday, 30 June 2014

Canal Cuttings (29)

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines. Covering the last 200 years or so of life on the inland waterways. With particular interest in the major issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 

The Mail
Saturday 21 February 1948

Canals Will Be Busy Again

From Adrian Ball

London. — The bustle and colour Britain's canals knew in the eighteenth century are returning. Shortages of coal, railway wagons, and coastal shipping have brought them back into the news.

The canals, state-owned from January 1, are the subject of a special report being prepared for the Government. It is expected a plan designed to speed up waterway traffic and attract back to the canals many, of the 40,000 war-scattered people who lived on them before 1939 will result. Already Diesel engined monkey boats are replacing the traditional horse drawn barges. These grimy little craft look out of place in the picture postcard surroundings of the canals, but their speed they can tow a train of barges from London to Birmingham through the intricate system of locks in 48 hours makes them invaluable.

Inland ports are likely to be developed extensively under the new State ownership. Reorganisation of the entire canal system along 'railway track' lines would follow. Many of the families who for years have lived on the canals will be 'grounded' by modernisation schemes. Today there are 2,149 miles of canals and waterways in Britain, forming a gigantic St. Andrews Cross, with Birmingham as its apex, and London, Bristol, Liverpool, and Hull its extremities. The earliest canals go back to Roman times, but most of them were formed during the race for coal in the eighteenth century.

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