Wednesday, 25 June 2014


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 the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the 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 Maitland Daily Mercury
Saturday 6 December 1913


The conference of municipal corporations has passed unanimously a resolution moved by Mr. Neville Chamberlain in favour of the state acquisition of canals. The English canals fell into the hands of the English railways, and the English railways were allowed to remain in the hands of private companies. Large national interests were sacrificed to small private interests. Very much the same arguments as justify the nationalisation of railways; and the experience of Germany teaches that both canals and railways contribute best to the wealth and well being of a nation when they are both alike under the direct control of the state. Germany, Belgium, and France have developed their, system of internal water traffic of recent years parliament has with the development of their railways, while our total tonnage of forty millions has remained stationary for twenty yours (says the Pall Mall Gazette). We are simply throwing away our national advantages. With our great ports mostly situated on the estuaries of rivers which can be easily canalised, if they are not canalised already, and with our great manufacturing centres grown up inland in proximity to the coal fields, the cheap transport which canals afford is a most important factor in industrial success. How many of our canals are deserted and stagnant ditches; others are as dry as the Sahara. We hope Birmingham will take the lead and awaken the country to realise that we must continue to develop the work of our careful fathers if we would keep the position which they gained for us at the head of the world's trade.

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