Why is WikiProject UK Waterways the only project on Wikipedia devoted to regional waterways? Are rivers, canals, locks, and other waterways utilized differently in the United Kingdom than in continental Europe, the United States, Australia, or elsewhere?
geni: The UK's waterways with a few exceptions (the Manchester ship canal say) never expanded from the original small size they were built to (usually somewhere around 72ft*7ft although both bigger and smaller standards exist). Elsewhere canals tended to expand at least up to barge size but in the UK they were for the most part flat out replaced by rail. The UK's canal system is the only one I'm aware of where an entire network of canals ended up being used for leisure with no significant movement of goods.
EdJogg: A widespread network of canals developed in the UK as there were no other practical means of bulk transport at the time. I suspect that other countries (following on from the British invention of the steam engine) moved straight to the faster transport provided by railways and then roads, except where navigable rivers of suitable size already existed. There is also a great sense of history in the UK, and a love of all things old – hence the desire to resurrect as much as possible of the original canal network for modern leisure and ecological use.
Hymers2: Agreed with the above, with the addition of the Irish waterways. The UK and Irish systems are unique in the world in being used almost exclusively for leisure and in being largely unchanged from when they were built. Where leisure use has developed elsewhere (eg Canal du Midi) it has usually been by companies of British origin, at least initially.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of maintaining a regionally-focused WikiProject?
EdJogg: I cannot speak for others, but my knowledge is limited to UK waterways, so a region-specific project helps maintain focus. On the other hand, there are likely fewer editors available to contribute.
Jezhotwells: Agreed the guidelines are good and clear. I have contributed to River Avon, Bristol Harbour and also other features of the docks and tributary rivers and streams.
Hymers2: I have contributed expansions and revisions to several articles.
Some of the project's articles include route maps. How do these compare to the route maps for train and roadway articles? What sources of information are used to create route maps for waterways?
Ronhjones: I have made some of these, using the standard set of icons as used for the railways, plus the necessary water only related ones. I use a combination of published guides (e.g. Nickolsons), Streetmap (OS map), Google earth, and own knowledge.
Rodw: I've never made any of these but I'm very grateful to User:Bob1960evens and others who have made loads of them.
Hymers2: The route maps compare well to those used for railway articles and are very useful as a means of explaining the routes.
Jezhotwells: I have found these icons useful; and used them to make a map for New Cut (Bristol).
EdJogg: The icons and maps were based on those created for railways, and expanded to provide the unique features. The maps are essential for describing the (arrangement of) features of a canal in a succinct manner and useful to show the alternative routes proposed or built for restored canals.
How are abandoned waterways and structures handled by the project? Do these tend to be more interesting than the waterways currently in use?
Rodw: Lots of the old canals, including the Somerset Coal Canal near me are no longer in water, but the feature which seems to have generated most discussion is the amazing (but unsuccessful) piece of engineering – the Caisson lock.
geni: About the only additional challenge that abandoned stuff presents is deciding what is actually abandoned. There are a lot of canals around that have bits in water and active restoration projects which can be tricky to classify (the Croydon Canal is clearly abandoned the Thames and Severn Canal is less clear).
Jezhotwells: I agree with geni; often hard to decide what is actually abandoned. Many ambitious projects are in existence to restore waterways such as the Wilts & Berks Canal.
EdJogg: The 'abandoned' canals are often more interesting (to me) since many are in an active state of restoration, so the articles are expanding to reflect progress. Those that aren't being restored may be less well known. Established waterways are perhaps less interesting as their current state is 'in use', although the history should be as interesting.
Wilts & Berks Canal
What appears to be an abandoned portion
New construction on the Wilts & Berks Canal
Does the project have any difficulties acquiring pictures of waterways? Does the project's regional focus make requested photography easier to take?
Rodw: I help by taking pictures of waterways near me – but I also find Geograph Britain and Ireland a really great source & they all have suitable licences.
geni: Used to be but most are covered these days. Biggest problem is probably the british weather.
Jezhotwells: Geograph is a good source. I have contributed some images to Commons.
EdJogg: There are many hundreds of canal pictures that have been auto-uploaded from Geograph to Commons. The main problem is categorising them. Since the editors and the subject matter are in the same country, taking additional photographs presents less of a transport problem!
Anything else you'd like to add?
Jezhotwells: Any new members will be welcomed, there is much that has still to be covered.
EdJogg: The British canal system is a fascinating topic to study, and any editors interested in industrial archaeology or old technology will find much of interest here.
Next week, we'll watch the world's second most popular sport. Until then, stump the batsman with your superior knowledge of WikiProjects by reading through the archive.