Waterways of England and Wales

Their history in maps

History

Introduction

The maps in this section were drawn by Mike Stevens (1942-2007). He compiled the information from publised sources. You can read Mike's original introduction to the maps by following the link. The maps were first published on his extensive personal website www.mike-stevens.co.uk. Mike Stevens was a trustee of the London Canal Museum and his work is republished here by kind permission of his widow as a tribute to a man who lived for the inland waterways and contributed a great deal to a variety of waterway organisations. The style of the pages has been changed to that of the London Canal Museum website but the content of the maps is unchanged. Most of the text is also his.

The maps were drawn to illustrate the growth and decay of the canals and river navigations of England and Wales. The information used came from published works, most particulary the David & Charles Canals of the Britsh Isles series by Charles Hadfield and others, and The Illustrated History of Canal & River Navigations by Edward Paget-Tomlinson.

The work is not restricted to canals that were actually built, but have includes some of the proposals (some of them fascinating) that never came to fruition. These are indicated in the lists by the [#] sign.

There are limitations to what can be done in a work of this sort. Choosing a scale to show the information reasonably clearly on the screen means that the coverage couldn't be as complete as the author would have liked. Scotland and Ireland, and the most Northerly and Westerly parts of England and Wales are omitted for this reason, and some very small waterways are also left out. Some of the facts are simplified in the interests of clarity and scale.

Waterways have been divided into types in a fairly obvious way, but the boundaries between types are full of ambiguity. While for the majority of the system, "narrow" refers to waterways designed to take craft of approximately 7ft beam, and "broad" means upwards of twice this, there are a number of waterways that fall somewhere between the two.

For some waterway projects that never achieved fruition, sources did not indicate the planned route in any detail. Indeed in some cases there never was a detailed survey. For some, all that could be found was a starting and a finishing point. In those cases the waterway is indicated by a straight line or a guessed curve.

Index of Available Maps

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Up to 1750

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1750 to 1760

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1760 to 1770

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1770 to 1780

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1780 to 1790

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1790 to 1800

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1800 to 1810

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1810 to 1820

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1820 to 1830

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1830 to 1840

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1840 to 1850

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1850 to 1860

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1860 to 1870

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1870 to 1880

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1880 to 1890

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1890 to 1900

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1900 to 1910

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1910 to 1920

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1920 to 1930

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1930 to 1940

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1940 to 1950