New book cruises through Dacorum waterways’ history

Author John Cooper
Author John Cooper

An author’s latest book about the county’s canals meanders through Dacorum’s history – and ends up in Berkhamsted.

Hertfordshire’s Historic Inland Waterway: Batchworth To Berkhamsted covers 29 locks along a 14-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal.

Hertfordshire's Historic Inland Waterways: Batchworth to Berkhamsted by John Cooper

Hertfordshire's Historic Inland Waterways: Batchworth to Berkhamsted by John Cooper

It is John Cooper’s eighth local history book in as many years years, and the retired office manager spent 10 months researching, writing and taking up-to-date photographs to go alongside the images from days gone by.

The book traces the history of the canal, from its origins at the start of the early 19th century as an essential means of transporting raw materials to the new factories and mills, to its decline in the mid-20th century before its revival with the emerging pleasure boat business.

Mr Cooper, 77, who lives in Watford with his wife Betty, said: “I’ve always had an interest in the canal, as it’s just across from our flat opposite Cassiobury Park.

“I collect picture postcards as a hobby, so I suppose that’s where it all started from. I’d put together all the notes and I thought if I found it interesting, others might too.”

The book takes the reader on a journey along the towpath from Batchworth Lock in Rickmansworth, and when it reaches Dacorum it passes the old Ovaltine factory in Kings Langley, Toovey’s flour mill and the Rose Lime Juice wharf in Boxmoor before ending up in Berkhmsted.

The book is available at Waterstones in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted, and Mr Cooper will sign copies at Ashridge Visitor Centre between 1-2pm on Sunday, December 6.