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Dogs on boats: from the archive

It's not unusual to see dogs on boats, and they've been boaters' companions for many years. Check out these four-legged canines from our archives.

Syd and Eleanor Mitchell's narrowboats, Regent's Canal Dock

Dogs, a man's best friend? Boaters for centuries, men, women and children have enjoyed the company of their pets, and in particular, dogs.

Portrait of man and his dog

This boatman wearing a flat cap, a neckerchief and double breasted waistcoat is having his portrait taken standing next to a small terrier type dog on its hind legs on a box, with a pipe in its mouth.

Althought the dog looks pretty happy about this arrangement, probably not the best idea to give your pet a pipe, however happy they may look.

This photo is dated as 1890.

We have many photos spanning the decades in our archives which are housed at our very own National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, and it's definitely worth a visit. However, the musuem will be closed until further notice.


Picture 1: "Ceiriog Tarr & Macadam Works". Workers including a young boy, at Glyn Valley Tramway near the Llangollen Canal.

Picture 2: "Shropshire Union Railway & Canal Co horseboat 'Hussar' with a boat family. Little boy sits on the cabin roof with pet dog.

1910 - 1940

  1. 1910 - A boat family with a British Wateways butty, at Hawkesbury.
  2. 1930s - Joseph Skinner narrowboat 'Friendship', Oxford Canal Basin.
  3. 1937 - Copt Heath Wharf-Solihull. 'Kingfisher' the boat.
  4. 1930s - Joseph Skinner narrowboat 'Friendship', Oxford Canal Basin.

Stand-out images from the twenties and forties here, including boatwomen and snow deeper than most of us can probably remember.

  1. 1920s - Family group at Canal House in Blisworth, the home of T W Millner
  2. 1940s -Blue Line narrowboats, boatwomen on the Grand Union Canal
  3. 1940s - Snow on the ground at Blisworth
Family group at Canal House in Blisworth


  1. Bill Taylor at Apsley Mill
  2. Boatwoman and dog on River Nene
  3. Syd and Eleanor Mitchell with competition winners on 'Water Ouzel' on the Grand Union Canal
  4. S.E Barlow horseboat 'Rodney' at Hawkesbury
  5. Herbert Dunkley and friends aboard Kimberley
  6. Foxton on the Grand Union Canal

There are more dog pictures in our archives, but it's also jammed full with pieces from our fascinating canal history.

Last Edited: 12 May 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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