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Boat Dimensions for the L&LC

The official 1888 canal returns give 61 feet as the maximum length for locks on the L&LC. Dowley Gap had the shortest chamber, at 64 feet 4 inches, probably measured between the quoins, where lock gates pivot against the lock wall, so not that much use in giving a true usable length. Although 61 feet is still often quoted, an 1898 specification for a typical boat gives a length of 61 feet 6 inches measured over the stem and stern posts, and the iron and steel boats sometimes quote 62 feet 6 inches, though this probably included the rudder. It is really impossible to be definitive to 6 inches, and we would always advise 61 feet as a guaranteed length, though it is possible for a longer narrow boat to use the locks diagonally.

However, when thinking of building a boat, always remember the Calder & Hebble Navigation, whose locks in 1888 were quoted at 57 feet 6 inches long with a width of 14 feet 1 inch, making them smaller than those on the L&LC. Elland Low was quoted as having the shortest length between quoins, at 60 feet 7 inches.

When it comes to length on canals, there is only one way to tell and that is to try it, as most old boatmen would advise.

Air draft is variable, as it depends on the shape of the bridge. A stone arch bridge may have sufficient headroom in the centre, but insufficient at the sides, while modern flat bridges may be lower than arched bridges, but offer better headroom over the whole channel. For arch bridges, Leigh Bridge is one of the lowest, with that at Shipley being one of the lowest flat bridges. Note that this bridge tapers downwards to one side. A clear height of 7 feet 10 inches sometimes quoted, but slightly higher boats may be able to pass if they have narrow cabins. Care should always be taken by boats approaching the quoted headroom as canal levels can also rise and fall.


Boat Decoration

Here are a few examples of canal boat decoration. These samples are in the form of simple clip art for use on web pages. As such they are much reduced in size / quality and have non-traditional colours. But the source files can also be formatted as vector graphics that can be rotated and scaled to any size and changed to any colour; without loss of quality. Work is in progress to provide a selection of vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator (AI) format here during 2016.


In 2004 the Society, through the efforts of Mike Clark, produced a short leaflet "Boat Decoration on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal" covering  L&LC traditional painting and it is available here

Publications coverering British Canal Art

There has been a small number of commercial publications covering British canal art and boat decoration - so a search on the web, the high street and your local library should find at least one or two. Some are now out of print but these publications were still available at the start of 2016

Brightwork: Traditional Paintwork on Leeds and Liverpool Canal Boats by Mike Clarke, Sam Yates
Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Milepost Research; paperback edition (30 May 2009)
ISBN-10: 0951923625
ISBN-13: 978-0951923627

Travelling Art: Gypsy Caravans and Canal Barges by Gordon Thorburn, John Baxter
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: The History Press (30 April 2010)
ISBN-10: 0752455028
ISBN-13: 978-0752455020

Paint Roses and Castles: Traditional Narrow Boat Painting for Homes and Boats by Anne Young, Graham Taylor (Illustrator), Martin Young (Illustrator)
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: David & Charles; Second edition (30 April 1992)
ISBN-10: 0715399403
ISBN-13: 978-0715399408

Canal Arts and Crafts by Avril Lansdell
Paperback: 56 pages
Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd; 2nd Revised edition (1 Mar. 2004)
ISBN-10: 0747805865
ISBN-13: 978-0747805861

The Art of the Narrow Boat Painters by A.J. Lewery
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David & Charles (27 Mar. 2005)
ISBN-10: 0715321404
ISBN-13: 978-0715321409

Flowers Afloat: Folk Artists of the Canals by A.J. Lewery
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: David & Charles; 1st edition (31 Mar. 1996)
ISBN-10: 0715301454
ISBN-13: 978-0715301456