The building of the canals in the late eighteenth century opened up Britain to the Industrial Revolution. Thousands of rural people flocked to work in the city factories and mills, their life and environment, and the shape of Britain (and the world), became irreversibly changed.
And the Canal People drifted apart from land locked 18th and 19th century Britain, developing their own free-floating canal culture, traditions, customs, folk art and ways of work and life.
A Life afloat
Boat people lived in a closed community. Most were born and brought up on the canals and they tended to marry boat people. Possibly nobody else fancied the life and hard work! Some took jobs on dry land, few non boat people decided to work the canals.
A Boatman's cabin
The secret heart of the narrow boat world was the tiny back cabin. It was secret because it was such a private space, the personal home and possessions of the boating family, it was the heart because it shaped and controlled their working lives.
Cargo in the hold
Saturn’s hold could carry up to 16 tons of cargo though she would often have carried less. She was originally built to carry cheese from the rural areas of Shropshire, Cheshire and North Wales to the industrial city markets or to export from Liverpool.
Our Factsheets are PDF documents which can be downloaded and printed out. They can also be read onscreen on computers but the text may be too small to read on a Mobile Phone.