Since Norman times and perhaps before, most of the local rivers were used to transfer goods to and from the sea.
Many of the cathedrals in the eastern area had benefited from Barnack stone up to the mid/late 1500’s before the stone ran out.
The rivers were usually navigable to the extent of the tidal flow, thereafter it depended on the natural flow of the river and the depth of water available.
Flooding was a major problem, the lack of water not so much - until the watercourses got silted up!
The main navigable rivers in the area were the Rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and the Ouse.
The River Welland brought coal in from Newcastle to Stamford and took goods out.
What was used before the canal?
The Stamford Canal << The earliest proper canal in England? <<