This book is a study of waterways infrastructure and investigates through images and maps how the present midland network of canal and river navigations was put together. It is a complex history where some working waterways are approaching 250 years of existence, but where others span the distance of time with construction and modification extending right up to the present day. In some instances their existence has been sound and with other cases fragile. Many might have disappeared by now, were it not for a unique set of circumstances and a British passion for the past. English and Welsh Canals and River Navigations, in 2012, face one of the most of the most important challenges since 1948 when waterways owned and maintained by British Waterways pass into the control of the Canal and River Trust. The present situation is further complicated by the fact that not all navigations in England and Wales were nationalised. A portion of the railway owned canals had also been abandoned and some independent canals had closed before that time and were not considered in the nationalisation package. Others, such as the Derby Canal, lingered on in private ownership until complete abandonment occurred.
Ray is a well known author and canal historian who has written many books on the subject of canal for Amberley Publishing. He lives in Birmingham and is involved with the Railway and Canal Historical Society, and has many contacts within in this field.