|James Brindley, |
engineer of the first canal
In the first half of the 20th century most of the British canal system had fallen into disrepair. Only very few working boats were left and due to lack of maintenance some canals could not even be navigated any more. But in 1939 British writer Tom Rolt decided to spend his honeymoon on a narrow boat touring the canals and write a book about it. Very unexpectedly this book would trigger the renaissance of the British canal system after an unpromising start. First WW II intervened and then no publisher wanted the manuscript because there seemed to be no market for it. But when it was eventually published in 1944 it became an immediate success with both public and critics and stirred a new interest in canal boating as a form of recreation. The timing is very important here: The decrepit canal system was nationalised in 1947 and many canals were facing closure. Rolt's book and the Inland Waterways Association, a group co-founded by Rolt prevented closures through campaigning and created a lot of public interest in the canal system.