The United Kingdom is home to a vast network of waterways. These are navigable bodies of water in various forms such as canals, rivers and lakes.
Natural rivers and lakes were the first waterways to be used for the transportation of people and goods. These were then improved to make navigation more reliable, by the construction of artificial channels and flash locks. The introduction of the pound lock enabled more ambitious waterways to be built. The Industrial Revolution required the transport of large quantities of raw materials and finished goods, and this led to a period of 'canal mania' which saw the construction of a large network of canals in the United Kingdom.
Competition, first from railways and later from road transport, started the decline of many canal and river navigations, leading in some cases to their abandonment. The latter half of the twentieth century saw the development of recreational boating and the restoration of many disused waterways.