Britain’s Canals


Britain’s Canals –
A Handbook (Revised Edition)
By Nick Corble
Amberley Publishing – £14.99

Whether you are already acquainted with the inland waterways or intend to become so, whether your interest is active or passive, or whether you just like looking at the pictures, of which there are many, I hope you enjoy this book and that, in its own small way, it helps in making the waterways accessible to all.

So yeah, have always thought about owning, if not spending some time aboard a canal boat. And let’s be honest – who in their right mind hasn’t? After all: ”With over 2,000 miles of navigable waterway in the UK, Britain’s canals are an asset to be treasured by everyone.”

Indeed they are and should be, but the thing is, how does one come to some sort of terms with everything that that entails? What to buy? Where to buy? How to buy? As let’s face it, it’s not like buying a new shirt or a new car is it? Both of which most of us, to varying degrees admittedly, are well versed in.

Hence, the investigation of the whole caboodle by way of this most practical of enchanting and endearing introductions, the revised edition of Britain’s Canals – A Handbook by Nick Corble.

A publication that is compact, colourful, concise, and perhaps more importantly, to the point.

Conveying nigh everything the novice might need to know so far as canals and canal-boats are concerned, each of the book’s eleven sections come in bite-size chunks which are a veritable pleasure to read. There again, as Corble explains in the Introduction: ”my focus here has been to make this a book that can be dipped into and out of, and to tempt the reader to investigate further, with a list of additional sources given in the back […]. In other words, my aim has been to pique interest rather than have any pretensions to being comprehensive.”

Kicking off with a touch of history (‘1. Part of our History’): ”The first period was a time when heroes stepped out of the shadows, monumental structures were conceived and built, and even God was challenged,” and culminating with a mention of the terrible Beeching (11. Saved…?’): ”[…] the canals were spared a Beeching-like rationalisation, partly perhaps because they weren’t a sufficient priority to actually do anything about. As the 1960s dawned, the idea that the canals could be cruised for pleasure was beginning to take hold;” Britain’s Canals is a more than wonderful introduction to a whole new way of life – written by an author who most certainly knows his stuff (and a whole lot more besides).

David Marx


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