There is something strangely compelling about the waterways. Isolated places on the edge of society, they have always had their own distinctive way of life and a certain shady reputation. Ever since the earliest days, canals have attracted crime, with sinister figures lurking in the shadows and bodies found floating in the water. When a brutal murder in 1839 created a national outcry, it seemed to confirm all the worst fears about boatmen – a tough breed of men surviving in harsh conditions, who were swiftly branded as outlaws by the press.
Drawing on a rich collection of original sources, Dark Side of the Cut brings to life dramatic stories that are gruesome, shocking and tragic. These evocative snapshots of rough justice uncover the secret world of the waterways, revealing the real human cost of the Industrial Revolution.