The traditional cargo-carrying narrowboat - recently voted one of the 100 icons of England - emerged with the construction of the narrow canal network and lasted in until 1970 when the last regular long-distance contract was lost. Up until then, working boat families lived aboard according to their own culture and work ethic. Narrow Boats explores this, explains why their way of life persisted for so long, and looks at why and how it has changed.
The vessels evolved as the horse gave way to steam and diesel power and boatyards developed the skills to build beautiful boats, decorated with roses, castles, scrolls and geometric designs that brought colour and vibrancy to the waterways. Since their demise, a new generation of craft has emerged purely for leisure and residential use. This book, by technical consultant Tom Chaplin, reflects on the origin and purpose of the traditions that many of these attempt to replicate.
This book is part of the Britain's Heritage Series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain's past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with the narrow boat in all its variety.
Tom Chaplin has been cruising the inland waterway network since the 1950s, and much of the material for this book was obtained while crewing for working boatmen and observing their techniques, craft and lifestyle. The first of his four books on narrow boats was published in 1967. A civil engineer, he ran a Riparian Owner service for many years and concluded his career as a water freight consultant, championing inland waterway transport.