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Learning at Black Country Living Museum

Key Stage 2: Canal Mania Investigation Pack

These are the downloadable links for all the resources associated with the canal mania historical enquiry. Please begin by downloading the teachers' notes. Then, when you are ready, download the relevant PDF documents below by clicking on the highlighted links. 


1771 Canal Map

Black Country Canals


1881 Census  

This gives the details of the people on board a number of boats moored in Tipton, at Malthouse Road, Factory Canal Bridge.

1911 Census

This shows the details for the Captain and Boarder on the Fellows, Moreton & Clayton boat, "Apple".

1911 Census

This gives the details for a canal dredging boat.


James Brindley

"The father" of the English canal system, responsible for building the first Black Country canals 1768-72.

Thomas Telford

Responsible for improving the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the 1820s, shortening and straightening the course of Brindley's original canal.

Canal Bridges 

Images and information on the bridges that can be seen at the Museum.

Galton Bridge

A Grade 1 listed bridge in Smethwick, designed and built by Thomas Telford in 1829.



One of the Museum's boats. Bessie is a typical Black Country "day boat". 

Wharf/Hampton Boats

Longer than traditional narrow boats. Used from 1870 onwards to transport the maximum amount of coal possible using just one horse. 


The Museum's steam powered narrow boat. President was a "fly" boat, working day and night to transport goods long distance, as quickly as possible.


One of the Museum's boats. Diamond is an example of a family boat - travelling long-distance boat, with the boatman and his family living on board.

North Star II

An example of an icebreaker, used to keep the canal open during the winter.


An example of a spoon dredger used to clear silt and rubbish off the canal bed.


 Working on the Cut 1

An overview of the Factory and Canal Boat Acts in the late 19th Century.

Working on the Cut 2

Information on boat traffic and cargoes travelling between Birmingham and London in 1832 from evidence given before a committee of the House of Lords.

Photograph: Canal Family

Taken c1900.

Photograph: Towing a Canal Boat

Shows a horse-drawn canal boat.

Cargo 1

An open day boat loaded with tubes from Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd. in Bilston.

Cargo 2

Boats loaded with coal at a canal railway interchange.

Cargo 3

Shows the canal wharf at E.J. & J. Pearson in Stourbridge - fire brick and tile manufacturers.

Black Country Summer

Etching by Black Country artist, Harry Eccleston. Shows the decline of the canals but also captures their significance in everyday life. 

You may also wish to link your visit to a study of Mary Ward - one of the "real lives real stories" featured in our history detectives programme. Mary was born in 1905 in Brentford, Middlesex, the third of fifteen children born to  a traditional boating family.She worked on canal boats for most of her life – and would have started assisting her parents at an early age. She worked the “cut” throughout both world wars, and became Captain of President – the Museum’s steam narrowboat – in 1941.


Booking a Visit

Our Booking Team are available to offer help and advice when planning a visit. All educational groups must book in advance.

Plan your booking





Did you know?

interesting fact image

John Fowler & Company (Leeds) Limited produced around 10% of all Steam Rollers in the United Kingdom.

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