Canal Architecture in Great Britain
The UK's canal system developed, and is still developing its own styles of architecture.
The canals themselves have their own structures: the most common
of which are bridges and locks, but other distinctive structures include lock
keeper's cottages, wharves, basins, dry and wet docks, warehouses, aqueducts,
lifts and even the remains of inclined planes.
The canal companies had other operational buildings like toll houses, offices,
stables as well as the warehouses, workshops and wharves. And of course the canals
attracted manufacturing industry and agricultural merchants to their environs.
Along the canals you will still see the remains of canal related buildings, quarries
and mines, lime kilns, coke ovens and brick works.
There are two main types of canals, those that follow the contours of the land typical
of James Brindley (1716 – 1772) one of the most notable English engineer
of the 18th century - 'The Father of English Canal Building' and his followers
and those that employ great civil engineering feats of cuttings, tunnels, aqueducts
and embankments like Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE (1757 - 1834) civil engineer, architect
and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder and his exponents,
both types were of course be hybridised at at the convenience of the canal builder.
If you were to look at an empty canal in cross section then you would probably
see that the canal is generally saucer-shaped with a bank at either side. The
side on the down slope of the contour line is usually thicker or wider and accommodates
the towpath, thereby making the canal stronger. The towpath is usually separated
from the surrounding land by a hedge, fence or wall where no natural boundary
Canals are usually managed in sections where the water level can be controlled
by operational canal architecture: weirs, sluices, spillways with 'stop planks'
available every now and then generally under bridges where the canal is at its
narrowest. Planks are used to block off the canal when there is a breach.
Bollards are used to tie boats to or to slow boats down as they enter locks.
Many of the older metal bollards show wear from the usage of ropes.
Sign Posts and Milestones are regular canal architecture features along the
course of canals as are winding posts, mooring rings and other metalwork.
On many bends in the canal or near railway bridges you can find slopes built
into the bank designed to allow horses to be recovered from the canal after falling
Modern canal architecture includes marinas, old canal building conversions
as well as new 'Urban Splash' apartments or offices.