This is a commendably comprehensive history. Whilst not neglecting the planning, design, construction and the vessels used, it deals in depth with the commercial aspects, both passenger and freight, and with financial performance. These are clearly presented with extensive use of tables and graphs. The decline in the 20th century is dealt with unsentimentally. Following chapters on the revival and the Millennium Link, there is a realistic assessment of the future of Scottish canals - an unusual and welcome feature in this balanced history. Excellent value.
Peter Brown, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, July 2007
This highly readable book traces the history of this fascinating aspect of out heritage, from their 18th-century roots to their demise and change of use in our own time ... this book provides an invaluable reminder of their origins.
Scotland in Trust magazine, Autumn/Winter 2006.
ALMOST 40 years ago Jean Wilson's The Canals Of Scotland appeared and became recognised as a standard work on the subject. Much has happened to Scotland's canals in the intervening years and a new account was badly needed.
Len Paterson has delivered this with his splendidly illustrated history of the rise, decline and rebirth of our canals - From Sea To Sea: A History Of The Scottish Lowland And Highland Canals.
Concentrating on the Caledonian, Crinan, and Forth and Clyde Canals and the Forth and Clyde's linked waterways, the Union and the Monkland Canals the author looks at the commercial and political reasons for building these huge undertakings and at their economics and operation.
His account is thorough, based on extensive research in archives and in the considerable literature that has grown up around the canals. A series of appendices give essential figures about costs, traffic statistics and income for the canals at the time of their peak commercial significance.
He discusses the engineers who designed these canals, including such great names as Watt and Telford; the investors, private and state, who funded them; and the men whose sweat and effort turned their grand plans into reality. The story of Scotland's canals is indeed a rich and varied one and Len Paterson does justice to it.
Canals are, of course, built for ships and the vessels that plied these waterways get due attention. The author has previously written knowledgeably about the puffer and this characteristic product of the canal age is not neglected.
A chapter is devoted to the fascinating story of the canal that never was - the project, often re-visited, to build a mid-Scotland ship canal capable of allowing large warships and commercial vessels to move from the North Sea to the Atlantic.
The 1950s and 60s saw the canals decline but today they flourish as part of our leisure industry, if no longer as major carriers of goods and raw materials. Readers share the story of the rebirth of the Forth and Clyde Canal, its re-opening from Sea to Sea as a Millennium project and the magnificent engineering achievement of the Falkirk Wheel that reunites the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals.
Brian D. Osborne, The Scots Magazine, January 2007
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