'A Tender Parting at the Grand Junction Canal', c 1810s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand-coloured etching by Roberts after an original drawn by Woodward. A satire on the perils of travelling on canals, it shows a man bravely resisting his wife's attempts to disuade him from risking a journey to Uxbridge in a canal boat, watched by their tearful daughter. The Grand Junction Canal was designed to connect London to the rest of Britain's canal system enabling the transportation of goods produced in the expanding industrial cities of the north and midlands to the capital. William Jesop was appointed as Chief Engineer of the Grand Junction Canal, which opened fully in 1805. Britain's canals enjoyed their commercial heyday from the late 18th to the mid 19th century, when increasing competition from the railways began their decline.