Teachers & Group Leaders

The Future Of Canals

Key Stage 3


This lesson examines the past history of freight transport on the British canal system, and asks whether it is possible for freight carrying to be redeveloped in the 21st century.

National Curriculum


  • Geographical Enquiry and Skills 1d Breadth of Study K Resource Issues iii

Learning Objectives

  • To understand that the British canal system was originally constructed for carrying freight and not for leisure craft.
  • To understand the reasons why freight carrying declined in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • To examine the reasons why canal transport may represent a positive option for the carrying of certain types of freight in the 21st century.


  • All children will learn that canal transport is a relatively green mode of transport with a low carbon footprint.
  • Most children will understand that canals may be used again in the future to carry commercial freight as part of a sustainable British transport network.
  • Some children will understand the complex economic and political factors that will affect the return of commercial freight carrying.
Download Lesson Plan