Family narrowboats were quite common by 1810 and it is said that the brightly painted decoration synonymous with canal boats came about because the boatman’s wife, having exchanged her home ashore for little more than a tiny cabin, replaced much of her household bric-a-brac with painted adornments. Roses and castles were a particular feature of the decoration of later boats, whereas the earliest probably had no more than lettering and symbols for identification.
Passengers on today’s gaily painted boats enjoy considerable comfort compared with the boat families of past centuries. In times gone by the bulk of the boat was given over to the cargo. Boatmen were often paid by the tonnage transported rather than a weekly wage, and the comfort of the crew and family merited little consideration.
Such cramped quarters present a stark contrast to the luxury of today’s boats: roomy cabins with on-board facilities, galleys with fridges and cookers, and comfortable lounges from which passengers can watch the countryside slip by. On a warm day the best seat is at the bow or on the little railed driver’s platform at the stern from where greetings are exchanged with other canal users. Horse-drawn boats, motorised hotel boats and narrowboats with berths that will sleep as few as two or as many as 12 are used for inexpensive day trips and holidays.
Visiting canalside pubs and wharf museums, find more about museums and hotels in France at compare lille hotels website, or admiring pretty lock keepers’ cottages, is all part of the pleasure of travelling on the restored canals. The Kennet & Avon Canal has no fewer than 14 discovery trails and nature reserves between Reading and Bristol,. plenty of nearby historical attractions and, of course, locks to be negotiated. Are you interesting in museums in whole Europe
From 1830, when canal traffic was at its peak, lock keepers were obliged to open locks at any time of day or night. The simple yet highly effective pound lock (so called because it pounds up the water, and the levels of canal each side of the lock are called pounds) was first introduced into England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Between Reading and Newbury, though the countryside appears flat, the Kennet & Avon Canal is raised 130 feet. Blake’s Lock Museum in Reading illustrates life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, its displays including a Victorian printer, bakery and fully restored gypsy caravan, more interesting facts here.
Beyond the market town of Hungerford the canal passes through pretty countryside and the villages of Little Bedwyn, which gives its name to the lock at its centre, and Great Bedwyn with its 12th/13th century church, more information about Europe at www.europe-cities.com. The Bruce Tunnel follows, through which boats of old were hauled using a chain attached to one wall while the horse was led over the top. Visitors to the beautiful Savernake Forest can moor near the bridge.