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This post was edited by 1584austin at 2012-2-8 15:59|
During the early 20th century, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, many canals in the Great Britain, mostly in rural areas, were abandoned due to falling traffic, caused mainly by competition from road transport. However the main network saw brief surges in use during the First and Second World Wars; and still carried a substantial amount of freight until the mid 1950s. The final blow was delivered by technological change. Most of the canal system and inland waterways were nationalised in 1948, along with the railways, under the BritishTransport commission, whose subsidiary Docks and Inland Waterways Executive managed them into the 1950s.
During the 1950s and 1960s freight transport on the narrow canals declined rapidly in the face of mass road transport, and several more canals were abandoned during this period. Most of the traffic on the canals by this time was in coal delivered to waterside factories which had no other convenient access. In the 19 60s these factories either switched to using other fuels, often because of the Clean Air Act 1956, or closed completely. The last regular long distance narrow boat carrying contract, to a jam factory near London, ended in October 1970, although lime juice continued to be carried by narrow boat from Brentford to Boxmoor until 1981, and aggregate from Thurmaston to Syston from 1976 until 1988.
Under the Transport Act 1962, the canals were transferred in 1963 to the British Waterways Board (BWB), now British Waterways, and the railways to the British Railway Board (BRB). In the same year a remarkably harsh winter saw many boats frozen into their moorings, and unable to move for weeks at a time. This was one of the reasons given for the decision by BWB to formally cease most of its commercial narrow boat carrying on the canals.
By this time the canal network had shrunk to just 2000 miles (3000 kilometres), half the size it was at its peak in the early 19th century. However, the basic network was still intact; many of the closures were of duplicate routes or branches
The later boats in this set of pictures are now hire boats for holiday makers.
I have personally enjoyed a few holidays on the Canals in days gone by. If it doesn't piss down it's great fun