Art of the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2016
Christopher M Jones
Chris M. Jones studies aspects of the traditional painted decoration of commercial narrowboats, commonly known as ‘Roses and Castles’ and acknowledged as a folk art.
When Ealing Studios produced a fictionalised documentary on the lives of working boatmen in 1945, it was perhaps inevitable that they would chose the most recognisable element of canal culture as the title for the film: Painted Boats. Even today, traditional boat decoration is synonymous with our waterways, with contemporary craft, the interiors of canalside pubs, chandlery items and publications being adorned with the artform we now call ‘roses and castles’. But where did this style originate from, and how much has it changed over the years? This article attempts to give a fuller understanding of this unique style of boat decoration.Origins…