Gongoozlers are people who enjoy watching activity on the canals in the United Kingdom. The term is also often used in a more general way to describe those who have an interest in canals and the canal life, but do not actively participate.
The word may have arisen from words in Lincolnshire dialect: gawn and gooze, both meaning to stare or gape. Although it might be presumed that such an expression would date from the nineteenth century, when canals were at their peak, the word is only recorded from the end of that century or the early twentieth. It was given wider use by the late L. T. C. Rolt, who used it in his book about canal life, Narrow Boat, in 1944.
"Gongoozler" as a term may also be used in any circumstance in which people are spectating without contributing to either the content or interest of an event.
Staircase locks, which can hold many boats at once, are very popular amongst gongoozlers, making Foxton Locks an ideal location for Gongoozling.
Some locations have become known for their Gongoozlers thanks to local events that encourage an increased number of observers. Princess Street lock on the Rochdale Canal in Manchester city centre is normally quite quiet, but it becomes a popular attraction during the Manchester Mardi Gras (actually held in late August).
The Falkirk Wheel is a huge and spectacular feat of engineering, which attracts very large numbers of Gongoozlers.
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