Writing a Letter

Art of the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Spring 2015

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones looks at the different styles of signwriting on working narrowboats

One of the joys of studying old canal photographs is examining the varied styles of lettering that adorned cabin sides and name panels of commercial narrowboats and wide-beam craft. Unlike the purely decorative roses and castles, lettering served primarily to advertise the name of the owner or boat hirer, but could also add to the effect by becoming a form of decoration it its own right. Although it was a matter of choice as to whether decoration was applied at all, lettering and figures had to be displayed by law. Boats were required under the original canal acts to have the name and address of the owner, or the person who had charge of the boat, shown on the bow or stern, along with the boat’s number or name painted in large white figures and capital letters, at least three inches high, on a black ground, which was conspicuous and readable whether loaded or empty. Later amendments specified that it was the name of the owner or owners that was to be painted on, rather than incl…

To read the full article…

…you need to be a subscriber to NarrowBoat. If you are, you can login here. If not, you can buy a subscription here . If you are having trouble logging in, please contact support at subscriptions@wwonline.co.uk.

Writing a Letter featured image