Jen Allan Photography

Canal Boat Decoration

Since people started building boats in ancient times it has been a tradition to paint good luck signs and other emblems onto boats and many other items. The cabins on board ships and boats were often painted and panelled to resemble rooms in houses.


When it became more usual for whole families to move to live on canal boats travelling long distances in the 19th century, the women wanted their cabins to be as comfortable as possible, Traditions from home décor were transferred onto the canal boats and adapted. The fashions of the Victorian era can often be seen; lace curtains were copied by making crochet work which could be easily stored when worked on, as it required only a small crochet hook - easily hidden away in the cabin.


Landscapes and flowers were also adapted to become the well-known roses and castles seen on most boats.


Pottery was obtained from Stoke on Trent and other pottery districts where the boat people might buy "seconds" from the potteries where they picked up cargo. The ribbon plate became a firm favourite. I will try to get more examples to display here as and when I visit again.