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Gongoozling - Gongoozlers - Gongoozies or Gongoozers

Gongoozling is a canal users word used to describe people who hang around locks, bridges or other canal features, much like train or bus spotters, watching the activity and boats of the British canal system.

Although it was almost definitely used as a derisive term by boaters, BW and canal company employees in the past there is only very mild derision attached to the term lately, and it is regularly used, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, by some Gongoozlers themselves to themselves and their canalside activities.

The first documented use we have come across is in LTC Holt's 'Narrow Boat', published in 1944 and is supposed to find its true roots in northern dialects, particularly Lancastrian - both 'gawn' and 'gooze' meaning gawp or gaze.

We know that you will find Gongoozlers at canal heritage sites like Foxton Locks, the Anderton Boat Lift, Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum and similar locations. We like Gongoozies who come equipped with their own windlasses, AKA lock Key, or offer help to negotiate locks and are we happy to answer their questions and wish we had a pound for every photo taken of our boat.

Gongoozlers or Gongoozies sitting in their cars at Teddesley Lock on the Staffs and Worcs Canal

We have seen Gongoozlers of just about every age. Many more mature Gongoozers just sit in their cars facing the canal wherever there is suitable parking.

A spin-off for some Gongoozling is the creation of canal related art and photography.

Some Gongoozies have been known to heckle us or even harass the boat's crew - this is usually near canalside pubs or in sink council estates!

Whilst trainspotting is commonly associated with identifying locomotive engine makes and rolling stock, we have rarely seen Gongoozlers recording boat details. However many Gongoozies have an interest in the history of a particular canal or section of canal.

The Falkirk Wheel in Scotland is a modern, huge and spectacular feat of engineering, which attracts large numbers of Gongoozlers that can take a trip on the canal here and enjoy a safe canal experience.

www.gongoozler.org is the the online presence of the Canal Card Collectors Circle, a serious organization affiliated to the Inland Waterways Association.