Mechanism for lifting canal boats, 1796.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving after a drawing by inventor Robert Fulton (1765-1815) entitled 'The Second mode of pasing an alternate Trade' from his 'A treatise on the improvement of canal navigation' (London, 1796). Here boats pas into a tunnel and are raised through vertical shafts using chains wound round drum-wheels. Many canals were built in England in the late 18th century. Fulton was convinced that expensive locks and aqueducts were not necesary. He believed it would be cheaper to use small canals with inclined planes between different levels and cable viaducts over rivers. 'Tub and cistern' lifting motors provided the power.