The Canal Pioneers, Canal Construction from 2,500 BC to the Early 20th Century

Even today, much commercial cargo still travels by water. The 
building of canals was vital to opening up access to trade and 
industry. The author has provided a comprehensive review from 2,500BC 
to modern times of the development of canals. Very Highly Recommended.

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NAME: The Canal Pioneers, Canal Construction from 2,500 BC to the 
Early 20th Century
FILE: R2431
AUTHOR:  Anthony Burton
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES:  203
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Inland waterways, canals, river networks, locks, slips, 
navigations, lakes, short cuts, canal boats, sail powered, oar 
powered, steam powered
ISBN: 1-47386-049-0
IMAGE: B2431.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/hqv7aq2
LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale 
DESCRIPTION: Even today, much commercial cargo still travels by 
water. The building of canals was vital to opening up access to 
trade and industry. The author has provided a comprehensive review 
from 2,500 BC to modern times of the development of canals. 
Very Highly Recommended.

For many readers, it may be a surprise to find out how long ago the 
first canals were built. The popular appreciation of canals is of 
the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the even more recent great 
canals at Panama and Suez.

The author has picked the starting point for his review as 2,500 BC, 
when the Egyptians brought stone to the site of the pyramids. The 
very first canals may have been dug even earlier, but the Egyptian 
pyramid builders are a good and uncontroversial point to begin.

Until very recent times, man has depended on rivers, lakes and the 
oceans as a highway. Even in the age of Roman road building, 
waterways still provided the most effective highways, particularly 
where the need was to carry heavy items. The Romans built roads 
primarily for military communications, designed to allow the legions 
to march between forts and centres of population quickly and in all 
weathers. They also provided highways for fast military chariots. 
For trade, waterways still worked best. There is some indication from 
archaeology that simple canals had been built in the distant past to 
provide shallow man-made cuts to bypass long bends in rivers. The 
Egyptians however required something much more sophisticated and 
substantial to allow barges to sail from the nearest rivers to the 
pyramid building sites.

The broad principles of canal building have remained unchanged, 
although the detail has varied. To connect water, rivers, lakes, and 
oceans, at different levels, the lock has proved a practical solution, 
although the Chinese replaced locks with stone ramps and hauled the 
vessels up the ramp to the next level. Locks initially employed 
guillotine gates, but the better solution was found to be the mitre gate 
that is used around the world. However, as hydraulics and large metal 
structures became practical, the lift, or wheel, offered an effective 
alternative, lifting the vessel in a metal tank between levels of water.

The disadvantage of the lock has always been that it can be a greedy 
user of water, requiring reservoirs to help out in dry periods. To avoid 
this, tunnels and aqueducts were used from early times. Today, with 
barges equipped with engines, long tunnels are more effective but 
required hard manual work when barges were pulled along by horses that 
could not be used in tunnels.

Canals are still being built and old canals being restored. In addition 
to providing a method of moving cargo, they now also provide an important 
leisure resource and some are being planned as an effective way of moving 
water to areas that receive low rainfall and high water demand. One 
proposal that has been considered in Britain is for a new canal network 
to link into existing canals and reservoirs to bring water from the north 
down to the water hungry south, but which could also provide a way of 
linking all waterways together into a comprehensive national network.

The author has provided many new insights and the standard of illustration 
is excellent.