For many years, Braunston was a self-supporting agricultural village with most of the population working as farmers, agricultural workers, farm bailiffs, blacksmiths, graziers, gamekeepers and shepherds etc. There were also bakers, butchers, coachmen, innkeepers, various shopkeepers and a whole host of individual crafts to support the inhabitants. However, with the coming of the canals, the list of occupations altered considerably to include boat builders, brick makers, engineers, rope makers, coal merchants, boatmen/women, canal clerks, canal labourers, leggers, lockkeepers and many more. Some occupations shown on the censuses of the 1800s are now long gone, such as hay trussers, bonnet makers, a chair bottomer and brazier, collar makers and lace makers. There were 9 smock frock makers in the1840s and 50s, and, in 1851, a man recorded in the census as a rat catcher and pig killer.
From the Coventry Evening Telegraph – Thursday 23rd June 1960
Braunston – Decline of an industry
The great Industrial Revolution which overtook England in the latter half of the 18th century created a demand for cheap but, above all, reliable, transport which was only satisfied when a great network of canals had been cut through the length and breadth of the land.
This necessity resulted in among other things, the quiet agricultural village of Braunston being turned into a boom village at the very heart of the complex waterway system.
In time a new and colour breed of man was born. The canal folk. A hardy breed and rich is lore, they plied the man-made waterways in their long narrow boats carrying cargo in quantity and with a degree of reliability that the primitive roads would never hope to equal.