The Cost of Carrying

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Winter 2019

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones looks at the many financial overheads associated with canal carrying

When studying images of laden boats travelling along the cut, it is easy to overlook the back story: how the craft came to be loaded, and the organisation and costs involved in getting any cargo from its starting point to its destination. The financial and logistical aspects of canalcarrying are rarely written about, and may thus be new to many readers. The financial details of canalcarrying arrangements were important to merchants, carriers and canal companies, and also to boaters who relied on them for their income. Exploring the costs of carrying reveals how the traffic was obtained in the first place, how the canal companies, carriers and all concerned organised trips and were paid their due, and how they fought against competition from rivals on the canals, railways or roads. Obtaining the cargo Before any trip could begin, the intended cargo first had to be obtained from merchants, manufacturers and traders, a process as varied as the types of materials and goods carried on th…

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