Paget-Tomlinson, E. (2004) Colours of the Cut Landmark Publishing ISBN 1 84306 145 7

In working to design the colour scheme for our boat, BCN 18686, I’ve inevitably returned to Edward Paget-Tomlinson’s seminal reference ‘Colours of the Cut’. It’s an accurate and wide-reaching record of the traditional paintwork and colours of the working boats of Britain’s rivers and canals. A leading canal historian, Paget-Tomlinson was able to provide not only fine illustrations but also a short history of many of the companies too, and these commentaries are further supplemented by many evocative b/w images of the working boats. To me ‘Colours of the Cut’ is a must-have reference. A pictorial catalogue of canal [and river] craft liveries – but much more too.

As Tony Lewery says in the foreward ‘The colour schemes and richness of decoration on inland bosts and barges can stand as symbols of something much bigger than a bit of cheerfulness, reflecting an attitude to the working boats by those who worked in the canal world – the boat men and women, the boat builders and painters. The paintwork spoke of a pride in the trade and a care for the tools of the trade, a place where art became inextricably tangled up with the everyday working life of the boat population.. It was only a few pots of paint but their use has an importance quite out of proportion to the simplicity of the idea. Well designed boats did a simple transport job with grace and dignity. With colours they did it with a quite unnecessary added beauty that reminds us that we are human, and can be quite nice.’


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