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Synopsis

When a young English nobleman was thwarted in love he abandoned the court, retired to his estate near Manchester and built a canal to serve his coalmines. The Bridgewater Canal was the sensation of the age and led others to follow the example of the enterprising Duke of Bridgewater. Over the next half century Britain was covered by a network of waterways that became the lifeblood of the Industrial Revolution. This is the story of those canals and of the people who made and used them. It tells of the great engineers, such as Telford, Brindley and Jessop and of the industrialists, such as Wedgwood and Arkwright who promoted the canals they built. It also tells the story of the anonymous navvies who dug the canals, the men and women who ran the boats and the workers who kept the canals running. It covers the years of the decline caused by competition first from rail then road transport and the renewal of the canals as leisure routes.

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