Thursday, 2 October 2014


This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 
Sunday Times
Sunday 8 October 1933

One million pound is to be spent on bringing Britain's network of canals up to date. Canals, looked upon by some people as a rather old-fashioned form of transport, are making a sensational come back.

The "Sunday Chronicle" was told the secrets of the national transport "war" which lie behind this huge scheme. An official of the Grand Union Canal Company which operates the miles of inland waterway between London and Birmingham, described how this system is being equipped for the big transport battle of the future which will arise from the Salter Report.

The canals hope to carry much of the heavy traffic which today goes by road, but for which roads were never made. More than 1000 men will be engaged on our new reconstruction scheme, the official said. The work in hand includes the building of new canal banks, capable of standing up to the wash of much larger and faster craft. Then there are new locks able to hold boats and ' barges twice as wide as those in operation today.

This scheme is the greatest development in the use of canals for more than 100 years, and as a result the canals expect to carry more merchandise than they have ever done since the introduction of railways and motor transport. The canal of the future will be a deep, wide inland waterway with large and powerful motor barges scudding along it, said the Grand Union official. The days of the leisurely horse drawn barge are numbered.

At present it is estimated that 50,000 people are engaged on the various canal systems, but when the new plans are completed and more traffic is diverted to them that number will be greatly increased. Already a number of canal barge are being taken out of store and put back into traffic, for since the fierce competition of road transport many barges have been sunk in still water to keep them in good condition.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fred Dibner Yorkshire Man!

Its two years since we were last on the Coventry canal. That time is engrained in my mind and will be remembered by us for a long time to come. We were stopped dead in our tracks by damage to the propeller which required Rosie being taken out of the water to effect a repair.  

You can read the full story here. Click Here: We will soon be going past Charity Wharf again which will be a reminder of that fateful day.

Charity wharf would be a place where Fred Dibner would be in his element. Fred was a National Treasure who loved old machinery and respected the engineers for their knowledge and skills. 

Fred was no stranger to the waterways and became something of an icon of the quirky, quintessential, flat capped, rule of thumb, no nonsense northerner. His one fall from grace being that he did not come from Yorkshire. 

It has to be said that as ever, the Yorkshire folk  never held that shortcoming against him.  In fact Fred was awarded not only honorary doctorate degrees we also awarded him honorary Yorkshire status. That simple fact alone is measure of the character of the much loved man.

Its ten years since Fred passed away and yet his name and his charismatic lifestyle as demonstrated on television reruns, lives on.  When we go past Charity Wharf, I shall think of Fred because in all the places on the canal. Charity Wharf is where Fred would have been in his element.

CARToon Caption Competition October 2014

It's October and its  the beginning of the Autumn. It is the season of summers fruitfulness. The summer solstice has been and gone. Now as the days start to shorten we have come to realise that it is just a continuation of the summer stoppage season.
How did you know I owned a boat!

This months caption competition is intended for you to be able to display your prowess at providing a pithy or witty caption. A caption that has a watery theme to it.

The guest judges selected for the October CaRToon Caption Competition are: Canal Historian Alma Knack, Wig Maker Anita Harecutt, Athlete Bjorn Toorun and Angling Correspondent Courtney Fish. The group were recently awarded the Nobel Pea's prize for their services to the Litter Making Industry and Poop Scoop Design.

Please be aware, there is no pecuniary prize on offer. This is because the Blogmeister is:  
i) A cheapskate. 
ii) A tight fisted old Curmudgeon. 
iii) Not on the CART management payroll. 
iv) Not amongst the ex BW working retired.

However, you will reluctantly get a mention in the captains blog. You can submit your entry on the back of a ten pound note, two five pound notes or by using the comments feature below.