The canals were dug using tools such as shovels, picks, and gunpowder and hard work, as mechanical tools and machines were not invented.

The men who dug the canals were known as ‘navvies', which was short for navigator. When the canals were built, they had to be perfectly flat and using an old process called puddling which lined the sides and bottom of a canal
with clay mixed with water. Where possible, canals went around hills, when this was impossible, locks were built to move a canal barge up or down to a flat level.

Travel on the canals is a very slow process, as they are limited to a top speed of 4 MPH.

When the canals were originally made there was no standard size for them, which meant that boats from one area could not fit the canals in another area. To minimise costs many canals were built with locks only seven feet wide and the boats just six inches narrower than that. These 6'6" boats are the classic british narrowboats that we still see today.