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Gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals in the United Kingdommarker. The term is also often used in a more general way to describe those who have an interest in canals and the canal life, but do not actively participate.


"Gongoozler" may have been canal workers' slang for an observer standing apparently idle on the towpath. Though it was used derisively in the past, today the term is regularly used, perhaps with a little irony, by gongoozlers to describe themselves and their hobby.

The word may have arisen from words in Lincolnshiremarker dialect: gawn and gooze, both meaning to stare or gape.It might be presumed that such an expression would date from the nineteenth century, when canals were at their peak, but the word is only recorded from the end of that century or the early twentieth. It was given wider use by the late L. T. C. Rolt, who used it in his book about canal life, Narrow Boat, in 1944.

"Gongoozler" as a term may also be used in any circumstance in which people are spectating without contributing to either the content or interest of an event.

Aspects of Gongoozling

Gongoozling, much like trainspotting, is a hobby that can extend to all aspects of canals.

Canal artwork
The collection or creation of canal related artwork is a common pastime amongst gongoozlers. This includes paintings, postcards and photographs.

Canal locks
Canal locks often attract spectators, including gongoozlers, because the operation of manual canal locks is a complex affair, with a number of opportunities for mistakes to be made. Some observers have been known to heckle or harass the boat crews, whilst others carry "lock keys" and actively wish to help boat crews with their passage.

Canal history and technology
Whilst trainspotting is commonly associated with identifying engine makes, it is rare for Gongoozlers to do likewise. However an interest can occur for the history of a section of canal, or the operation of locks and alternative devices such as inclined plane, water slopesmarker, and boat lifts with types like the Anderton boat liftmarker, the Falkirk Wheelmarker and the Str├ępy-Thieu boat liftmarker.

Notable locations

Fradley Junctionmarker is a popular place to observe canal traffic, as are many other junctions, due to the occasional need for three boats to pass.

Staircase lock, which can hold many boats at once, are very popular amongst gongoozlers, making Foxton Locksmarker an ideal location for gongoozling.

Some locations have become known for their gongoozlers thanks to local events that encourage an increased number of observers. Princess Street lock on the Rochdale Canalmarker in Manchestermarker city centre is normally quite quiet, but it becomes a popular attraction during the Manchester Mardi Gras (actually held in late August).

The Falkirk Wheelmarker is a huge and spectacular feat of engineering, which attracts very large numbers of gongoozlers.

The eight locks of Fonserannesmarker on the Canal du Midimarker attract so many gongoozlers that they have become the third most popular tourist attraction in Languedoc.

See also


External links

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