They were the necessary conduits of supplies and commerce that created the cities we now know. Rivers were the arteries of the growth of civilisation and can still be seen in almost every major conurbation.
But then technology came along and altered the landscape, quite literally. Canals were dug so that the boats carrying the necessary supplies could get to places not bestowed with suitable natural watercourses. Railways then moved people and goods around with the creation of new wooden and steel arteries across the length and breadth of nations. And with the advent of the internal combustion engine, road networks were even more fully developed, and communication became faster on roads and therefore more desirable.
And as a consequence our rivers became places less used and visited, became part of fewer people’s lives. And that actually is a great shame because they are still places of wonder and majesty, still places of beauty, and still offer a view of the countryside and the city that is unique. Much work has gone in to improving water quality after periods of industrialisation and neglect contributed to their lack of modern appeal
So the idea of a river taxi service operating between Perth and Dundee on the wonderful River Tay is to be welcomed. The Heritage Lottery Fund is right to decide it is worthy of investment. Although it might be hard to see it as a serious commuter alternative or as a way to get freight moved more effectively, it must have great appeal for tourists, both local and from afar.
And what a boon it would be for schools and colleges to give young people a different view of their environment.