England

Discovering hidden history of Britain's canal people

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Historian Liz McIvor discovers the hidden history of Britain's canals and the boat people who lived and worked on them during the Industrial Revolution.

During the 1860s around 18,000 families lived on narrow boats in Great Britain according to historic records. Living and working conditions were harsh and overcrowded with the risk of disease.

Canals were not the healthiest places to work and live with filthy water, typhoid and the risk of cholera.

Liz tells the story of the people who operated the canal boats, carrying fuel and goods around the country at the height of their importance.

She also looks at the reality of daily living on a canal boat and discovers how canal children were subjected to long working hours and poor conditions.

Credits: Additional archive footage is courtesy and copyright of British Pathe and the Huntley Film Archive. Photographic stills are are courtesy of the Canal and River Trust.

If you are unable to watch, here is some of the content included in this interactive video:

Canals: The Making of a Nation is broadcast on Tuesday 29 September on BBC Four at 20:00 and for 30 days thereafter on the iPlayer.

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