Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Narrow Boat - sliding into the past


The days of the old working narrow boats are gone and today most canal barges are used as pleasure craft.
The history of the canals however is intruiging.
I'm currently reading the book, Narrow Boat, by LTC Rolt which was first published in 1944.
It's a beautifully written testament to the old boats and reading it transported me back to the days when the canals were still thriving, though at the time of writing, the signs of them being neglected and falling into disuse were definitely showing.
I remember crossing the Leeds/Liverpool everytime I went into to Leeds when I was a girl.
The canal looked black and dismal and its littered banks were an area to be avoided.
It is wonderful that many of the canals throughout Britain have been cleaned up and are in use again, albeit for holidaymakers.
Back to Mr Rolt's book:
Reading about the narrow boats with their polished brasswork and painted decorations of flowers and castles, about the boatmen and women and their traditional dress, about the pretty lock cottages and Inns and the operation of the staircase locks, I find everthing connected with the narrow boat inspiring.
So much so, my next story incorporates the Leeds and Liverpool canal of the 1890s in its pages.
At the moment I haven't got a working title but am considering - 'The Black Thread'.
When I visit Leeds this year, I will make a point of re-visiting the canal and learning first hand how the lock paddles operate - and I must get some photos.

Photo curtesy Andy Roberts Inland Waterways - http://waterwaysphotos.blogspot.com

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