Liz McIvor travels across the UK’s extensive canal network to tell the story of how our waterways changed our lives – and how that legacy lives on. The ‘golden age’ of canals opened up trade and acted as a catalyst to the industrial revolution from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. But on a bigger scale, the canals became instrumental in shaping the nation we live in today.
Canals gave us modern financial capitalism with its speculators, monopolies and scandals; they also encouraged us to re-think our attitudes towards the rights of workers, migrants, family life and children. They helped further the new science of geology, giving us a more informed view on how landscapes were created over periods of time. The canals were present at the start of the new discipline of civil engineering, building on advances in scientific understanding and technology. Dr Deborah Bunton from the Open University's History Department, and Professor Emma Griffin at the University of East Anglia, join Liz to investigate the heritage and legacy that the canals have left us, as well as what their future holds.
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Canals: The Making of a Nation first airs on BBC One on Friday 28th August 2015 at 9.30pm, with locally-focused episodes broadcast throughout the regions. The series will be repeated on BBC Four later in the year. Full broadcast details and watch again where available can be found on bbc.co.uk.