Boats on British WaterwaysCategory: Land + People
By A. Ross
Nearly all our inland waterways are under control of British Waterways. If you see boats on a canal you can spot the words “British Waterways” on any of them. British Waterways own about one third of the boats and often use narrow boats, or what are often called “Monkey Boats”. They usually work in pairs: the first Monkey Boat has an engine and the boatman can be seen steering at the tiller.
The second boat or Butty Boat, where the boatman and his family may sleep, is often steered by the boatman’s wife.
Wide vessels, or barges, are also in great use on British Waterways and carry most of the traffic. They work especially on the wide waterways from the Humber, Bristol Channel, Mersey and the Thames. These connect up with the canals that are narrow and which are worked by the Monkey Boats.
Many of these barges are still made of wood, but the newer ones are being made of steel.
The men who work on the inland waterways are called boatmen. Some of them live on the boats with their families. There is not a lot of room, you are always on the move and it is difficult to go to school.
Some of the boatmen cannot read or write because they have never learnt.
From Canals in Britain, Oxford, 1962.