Today (Thursday) marks the centenary of L.T.C. (Tom) Rolt’s birth on 11 February 1910.


Well, Rolt was responsible for saving one of the world’s greatest collections of industrial heritage in the form of Britain’s canal and railway network.

He wrote a book about his time travelling on the, then largely neglected canals, and it became a bit of a best-seller and almost single handedly kick-started the canal holiday market, which in turn created a need for restored canals.

He was also a co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, and co-founded the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, the world’s first preserved railway.

He was also a prolific writer in addition to his writings about canals, he wrote a series of biographies on Victorian engineers such as Brunel, Thomas Telford and George and Robert Stephenson.

As part of the anniversary year, there are a load of events to commemorate his life and works.

Tom Rolt centenary events

It is highly likely that without his original book and efforts to promote canals for leisure – many of the canals would have disappeared within a decade or two and turned into convenient roads – much as the Grand Surrey Canal was turned into the rather dull Surrey Canal Road in South London.

Just imagine if the lovely Regent’s Canal had ended up as nothing more than a ring-road for motor cars.

A terrifying idea – so thanks to the man who wrote a book and saved our heiritage.

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1 Comment

  1. Oh, thanks for this post, Tom Rolt is a chap after my own heart, most worthy of celebrating his birth!

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