English Narrowboats: From Industrial Revolution to the Urban Housing Problem

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J Pérez-Martínez
R Pérez Fernández


The housing scene in major cities is driving people into unconventional real estate options, and London is no exception. As rental and purchase prices have risen, some individuals have turned to houseboats for an affordable option. The waterbodies, that were a main driver of the development of the city, have experienced the consequences of that growth and the degradation that followed. In this paper, the impact of the increase in waterway short-stay and permanent moorings is explored. Several events in the rich history of English canals are discussed, as well as their relevance to the current situation. The needs and main limitations are also considered, as these are putting pressure on the communities, agencies and authorities involved. The constraints, especially spatial, of this type of housing present an interesting challenge for boat designers who need to adapt to the next generation of boaters’ requirements. Additionally, improvement of the facilities and infrastructure is important to protect the rights of all waterway users and the wider public.

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