The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

The 39th item in our 'history of Watford in 50 objects' is a reminder of the vital role the Grand Union Canal has played in Watford's history.

Sarah said: "Over the bank holiday weekend, lots of us will be enjoying Watford’s open spaces including walks along the Grand Union Canal.

"These beautifully decorative pieces of canal art in our collection hark back to the days when the canals were the motorways of their era. They provided the transport infrastructure for country during the Industrial Revolution enabling goods and coal to be transported before rail and motorised vehicles.

"Originally part of the Grand Junction Canal, the route through Cassiobury was cut in the 1790s and although scenic today was considered an inconvenience to the Earls of Essex and Clarendon, who ensured that this wasn’t repeated with Stephenson’s railway which had to be rerouted away from their estates.

"Life wasn’t easy for canal people, and space incredibly limited, so great pride was taken in the painting of boats and simple household objects in a beautiful design often featuring roses and castles."

Watford Museum is now reopen to the public. Admission is free but book first by calling 01923 232297 or email For more information visit