top of page


parchment paper.jpg

About Bootle Canal

For years, the most popular method of moving goods around was on canals.  One of them is in the middle of Bootle: the Leeds-Liverpool canal.  Can you guess where it goes from and to? 


Unlike rivers, canals are man-made. From the 1700s, people thought it would be a good idea to create water channels linking ports and towns. 

town hall.jpg

True or False...

It only took 25 years to build the Leeds-Liverpool canal.  


Canals were great: large barges laden with about 40 tonnes of supplies (cotton, sugar etc.) would be pulled along by horses walking next to the canal on what is called a ''tow path'. That’s like pulling 2 huge coaches! The only problem was getting through narrow tunnels where the horses couldn’t go, luckily there was a neat trick to it called ‘legging’.  It is hard to explain so it is better just to look at a picture. 

The building work was all carried out by the ‘navigators’ (or ‘navvies’).  They used tools like shovels, pick-axes and even dynamite to blow up rocky obstacles as they didn’t have diggers. As well as their dangerous jobs, the navvies were forced to stay in ‘Shanty Towns’ which had none of the basics, like toilets or clean water.  

This new method of transport would bring more money by making trade quicker and easier than travelling by roads. From 1700 to 1750, most canals ended up in the North, this helped Liverpool to expand into the size it is today from all the trade, businesses and jobs sprouting up.   

town hall.jpg

Question time!

What illnesses did navvies become infected by?  

a) Typhus [caused headaches and rashes] 

b) Cholera [made you poo a lot/ could kill you]  

c) Dysentery [made you vomit: BLEAARGH!] 

d) All of the above! 

Horrid Fact!

Click on the map to return to the Horrible History Map page

Horrible History.png
bottom of page