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The Canal Builders (ePub)

The Men Who Constructed Britain's Canals

Transport Canals

By Anthony Burton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 38.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 52 B & W Illustrations, 3 Maps, if available drawings
ISBN: 9781473870352
eBook Released: 14th December 2015

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Canal Builders is a classic history book for anyone interested in the development of Britain's canal system. The book, which was first published in the 1970s, is now republished here in a new fifth edition. It takes the reader from the middle of the eighteenth century, to the start of the railway age in the early nineteenth century.

Anthony Burton has revised and improved the original text, using new material that he has found in archives since it was first published, and has added many extra illustrations.

This is the remarkable story of the many groups of people who were responsible for building Britain's canal system. There were industrialists such as Josiah Wedgwood, who promoted canals to help his own industry, and speculators, financed the projects in the hope of a good return. The work was planned by engineers, some of whom, such as James Brindley and Thomas Telford, have become famous, while others have remained virtually unknown but still did magnificent work. This is also the story of the great, anonymous army of men who actually did the work – the navvies.

This was the first book ever to study the lives of these labourers in detail. Altogether it is an epic story of how the transport route that made the industrial revolution possible was built.

'Well planned and well written …There is no better introduction to the early canal age.' The Economist

'This book is a definitive work covering the subject of canal builders in great detail...'

Towpath Talk

This is not some dry history but is delightfully brought to life with extracts from an extensive range of contemporary letters and publications and a good selection of illustrations.

...Anthony Burton has an relaxed style and makes the story interesting without being simplistic or patronising. The reader is smoothly led through the intricacies of eighteenth century business and is well entertained on the way. If you want to know how the canals came to be built and who were the people who made them happen then this is the book to tell you. It has not been bettered since it first appeared in 1972 and it has been steadily improved until it reached this its fifth edition.

David Kitching

'… a fascinating insight into the canal boom of the mid 18th century,...'

Cotswold Life Magazine

I found this an enjoyable read. It is a good general history of the development of canals and the principal players.

It has just the right balance between history and story. It was a book that I couldn’t stop reading once I started.

A must for the canal historian

James Simmonds
 Anthony Burton

About Anthony Burton

Anthony Burton is a professional author, who has been writing about the history of technology, including the textile industries for the past forty years.


He wrote and presented the B B C-T V series The Rise of King Cotton and also wrote the accompanying  book.


Recently he has been the advisor to Discovery Channels programmes Industrial Revolutions and Industrial Revolutions Europe, which included visiting silk mills and museums in Britain and Lyon in France.


He is a founder member and former chair of the Stroud Water Textile Trust, that preserves and demonstrates machinery of the West of England woollen industry.

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