The Birmingham Canal Navigations lie at the heart of the British canal network and have a rich heritage that spans over two centuries. The BCN network developed over a period of one hundred years and served the busiest and most concentrated industrial region of the country - earning Birmingham the nickname of 'Little Venice'. Industrial trade was an important influence on the BCN; its winding route and many branches were shaped by the needs of the pre-dominant iron and coal industries, as well as the gas, chemical and glass works.
Ray Shill examines the industrial archaeology of the network in The Birmingham Canal Navigations, looking at the structures, trade, work and craft on the waterway, as well as providing detailed maps of the network's various sections. He also considers the BCN's cottage numbering system, an often overlooked but vlaued part of the network's heritage. Once a busy industrial waterway, the BCN is now a place of leisure, with a hundred miles of navigation remaining, and continues to thrive as the centre of Britain's canal system.