Tub boats on the Shropshire Union Canal, c 1900.
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Tub boats filled with coal. The canals had declined rapidly when the railways arrived. At this time many had closed down. They were also in competition from road transport at the start of the 20th century. Road and rail services were quicker and more convenient than canal services. However, canals were still used for the transportation of coal and minerals, and in many instances were still making a good profit.