Canal Boats
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Canal Boat

canal boats Hello and a very welcome to this site which has been designed to provide, information help and advice on all the various aspects of buying, using, enjoying, financing and insuring your canal boat or barge here in the UK. So whether you are just thinking about buying a narrow boat or barge, or perhaps considering one as a live aboard boat, we hope you will find all the information you need, in order to enjoy your boating to the full. If you would simply like a quote, then please just follow the link here ( canal boat finance quote liveaboard) ( canal boat finance leisure) and it will take you to the relevant page, and for canal boat insurance then click the link here (canal boat insurance quote), which will take you to a simple online form. Canals  provide a truly unique and unforgettable experience, and whether you are planning to live on the water full time, or simply to enjoy them as part of a holiday, it is ironic to think that these wonderful feats of engineering which were originally designed for commercial use, now provide the backbone to one of the fastest growing leisure markets in the UK. Virtually everyone has a canal on their front doorstep, and within an hour even those of us who live in the city centre can be meandering their way through lush fields and water meadows in almost complete silence, with the gentle sound of the engines putt putting beneath you - what could be more relaxing!

In order to fully appreciate the canal network, I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief history, and as a chartered civil engineer myself, I am always overwhelmed by the ingenuity and sheer scale of these projects, which despite the ravages of time, still continue to provide us with a unique heritage which needs to be conserved and cherished. Using basic construction techniques and working in extremely dangerous conditions, these men were indeed industrial pioneers, and the least we can do is to recognise the sacrifices made by the unknown thousands who died in the creation of this magnificent network of inland waterways and canals, of which canal boats and barges became an integral part.

Canal Boats - A Brief History Of Canals

If you are one of the many who believe that canals and canal boats originated here in the UK, I'm afraid this is simply not the case. They were in fact pioneered several centuries earlier in China, of which the Grand Canal is generally regarded as the first, and was originally built somewhere between the 5th century BC and 600 AD! At over 1100 miles in length it is the longest ancient canal in the world. Now here's another fact which may surprise you - the pound lock was also invented by the Chinese in the 10th century, and is used extensively on the Grand Canal. So I'm afraid we have to thank the Chinese for our heritage of canals and locks, and it was only the pressure of the Industrial Revolution that initiated the development of our own network of canals that we know and love today. Until the 18th century, virtually all heavy goods were transported by river, using horse drawn barges, and it's not hard to see why - with virtually no made up roads, moving heavy goods by horse and cart over long distances was virtually impractical, made even more so during the winter months. In addition, since Tudor times, the river network had slowly been silting up, making many of them impassable, even to the smallest barges. Several acts of Parliament were passed to force riparian owners to keep the rivers clean, but with the increasing demands of industry, it rapidly became clear that an alternative solution was required. The great age of canal building really began with the construction of the Bridgewater Canal funded by the Duke of Bridgewater and designed and built by the renowned engineer James Brindley, and opened in 1761, but this was certainly not the first. Earlier notable examples include the Exeter canal completed in 1566 which also included the first example of pound gates, a section of canal on the river Welland built in 1670, and the Stroudwater Navigation in Gloucestershire built between 1775 and 1773. It is claimed by many that the Sankey Brook Navigation canal was the first canal of the Industrial Revolution, carrying coal by 1757, whilst the Newry in Northern Ireland as the first canal in the British Isles.

Canal Boat Cruising

The catalyst for the golden age of canal building was of course the Bridgewater canal, with James Brindley as the chief architect of the network, and the demand for coal and iron ore driving progress which is why so many were constructed in the  North and Midlands. Brindley's greatest achievement, which was not completed until after his death, was the so called Great Cross linking the Thames, the Severn, the Humber and the Mersey in the form of a cross. The Eastern arm was formed by the Trent and Mersey canal, with the Staffordshire and Worcester canal forming the Western arm, the Southern arm being formed by the Oxford and Coventry canals, with Birmingham at their centre as Britain's second city. Indeed it is often said that Birmingham and the Birmingham Canal Navigation ( BCN ) has more navigable miles of canal than Venice!

In addition to building some of the greatest canals in the British Isles, Brindley also set the standards for canal construction, and designed his canals around lock chambers of 7ft in width and 72ft in length, which in turn set the standards for boat design, bridges and tunnels.  Following his death in 1772 at the age of 56, and having completed ten of the country's greatest canals including the Leeds and Liverpool and the Birmingham canal, his unfinished plans were taken on by the equally famous engineers such as William Jessop ( Grand Union ), John Smeaton ( Forth and Clyde canal), and Thomas Telford ( Birmingham Canal systems, Shropshire Union and Llangollen canals).  The canal building bonanza continued unabated into the 1800's, until growth of the railways eventually struck a death knell for the canals. By the late 1800's they had become unprofitable, unable to compete with the speed and costs of transporting freight by rail. Many fell into disuse, but with the resurgence in their use for recreational activities such as boating and fishing, many are now being preserved and restored to their original condition by a small army of volunteers and canal boat enthusiasts. 

So having looked briefly at the canals themselves, let's now take a look at the various types of canal boats, their design and how these designs arose.

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Marinablu International Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of  Pantaenius UK Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)  - canal boats