Canal Boatmen’s Missions
by Wendy Freer and Gill Foster
37 photographs, 7 line drawings or maps
Softback – ISBN 978 0 901461 53 7
h = 230mm, w = 171mm, 72pp
(Despatch to UK POST FREE; Europe airmail add 15%; rest of world airmail add 30%)
Canal boatmen’s missions, chapels and institutes began to appear towards the end of the 1820s and continued to operate into the second half of the twentieth century. They were to be found in a variety of locations from sail lofts, engine houses and converted barges to more commodious red-brick mission halls and ‘tin tabernacles’.
Canal missionaries and chaplains made an important contribution to the social and moral welfare of the ‘floating population’. They provided not only an accessible and welcoming place of worship but also schools, recreational facilities, various charitable services and even, in some cases, medical help. Their work was instrumental in forcing the state to take some responsibility for the unique needs of this special social group.
Boatmen’s missions and chapels were once widespread throughout the country and their attempts to ‘Christianise’ boat people were very much a product of one of the most significant social phenomena of the age. This fascinating look at their evolution, their activities and their influence will be of interest to canal lovers and to those with a general interest in the social history of the 19th and 20th centuries.
“an important addition to the social archaeology of the early bulk transport system . . . reminds us that in all our archaeological and historical work we are dealing with the history of human beings and their lives and aspirations” – Industrial Archaeology Review
“a fascinating, readable and well-illustrated book” – Waterways World