By Mark McConville
STUNNING RETRO pictures have revealed the everyday lives of the people who used to live on canals in the UK in the 1950s.
The incredible images show a man and woman carrying out maintenance on a narrow boat, a postman handing mail to someone on a ship and children on board a narrow boat carrying steel.
Other striking shots show a group of children playing on board a boat, narrowsboats transporting soil and rubbish and some backyard gossip between canal dwellers as narrow boats are moored next to a ship.
The remarkable photographs were taken along canals in the United Kingdom in 1952.
The British canal system of water transport played a vital role in the United Kingdom’s Industrial Revolution at a time when roads were only just emerging from the medieval mud and long trains of packhorses were the only means of “mass” transit by road of raw materials and finished products.
The 20th century brought competition from road haulage, and only the strongest canals survived until the Second World War. After the war, there was a rapid decline in trade on all the remaining canals, and by the mid 1960s only a token traffic was left, even on the widest and most industrial waterways.
In the 1960s the infant canal leisure industry was only just sufficient to prevent the closure of the remaining canals, but then the pressure to maintain canals for leisure purposes increased. From the 1970s, increasing numbers of closed canals were restored by enthusiast volunteers.
The success of these projects has led to the funding and use of contractors to complete large restoration projects and complex civil engineering projects such as the restoration of the Victorian Anderton Boat Lift and the new Falkirk Wheel rotating lift.