Saturday, 5 July 2014

Canal Cuttings (31)

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. Covering the last 200 years or so of life on the inland waterways. With particular interest in the major 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. 

Bairnsdale Advertiser
Thursday 1 May 1902


London, Tuesday Night. The London County Council has decided to have the old canal connecting the Thames and Severn Rivers reopened for traffic. - The canal will, it is announced, be in a navigable condition by October next.

The Chronicle
Thursday 17 March 1949
NATURALISTS, bird watchers and members of the Inland Waterways Association of England are anxious to purchase the Basingstoke Canal, in Hampshire, or to prevent it from being sold in lots at high prices when it is auctioned shortly. They want to preserve it intact. It is privately owned, and one of the few not nationalised. It is said to be worth £20,000; parts of it are as lovely as any English river. The canal runs from Weybridge, Surrey, to Basingstoke. It was built 150 years ago.

The Central Queensland Herald
Thursday 6th April 1939
Why Not
A. P. HERBERT is a distinguished exception to the general rule that back-bench MP's are nowadays, except as division fodder, of no account or importance. He has a way not only of making himself heard but of getting things done. He has now embarked on another practical project the restoring to their full utility, possibly with extensions, of our 4760 miles of inland waterways and canals. Possibly few people realise that there are three sea-to-sea canal routes across the Kingdom. Mr Herbert tells us that neither he nor, strangely enough, the Ministry of Transport knows how much of this invaluable alternative communication route has been allowed to lapse into a clutter of weeds and broken locks. But he suggests that, with a view to peace time profit as well as wartime emergency, the Government should at once recondition this system, and thus find useful work for unemployed men. The motor, which at first knocked out the old canal horse, has now afforded means of reviving in more efficient form the old canal barge.

The Daily News
Wednesday 12 February 1947
Blizzards Again Rage Over Britain

The Baltic's icy blast has swept back to England. Blizzards are raging in the north and the Midlands. London's temperature at 8 o'clock last night was 26 degrees, seven degrees lower than that at the corresponding time on Monday. More than 12 inches of snow fell in the north. In the sooth frost hardened the thawing snow, turning roads into sheets of ice. Thousands of employees in unheated London offices and stores, lit only by candles and hurricane lamps, arrived at work muffled in scarves. Millions of others, rendered idle by the drastic power cuts, stayed home. All gloomily studied the weather forecast promising more blizzards, snow and frost. Every effort is being made to get coal to London, but only a trickle is getting through. One hundred and twenty-five ships carrying 195,000 tons of coal are weather-bound in Tyne. The first of 42 colliers, storm-bound in north-eastern ports for two days, headed into a raging North Sea at dawn yesterday, bound for London. Thousands of British and Polish troops are helping to clear railway tracks, but their task is a gigantic one. Eight thousand 11-ton coal wagons are standing, fully-loaded, on main lines. There are another 43,000 on colliery sidings. Road conditions have deteriorated further. More flan 120 roads are now blocked. 
Canal barges in various areas are frozen in the water, sometimes to a depth of 12 inches. Even ice breakers are failing to break them out. The services have been warned to be ready to give whatever assistance may be required with trucks, tractors and other military vehicles. The Navy may use escort ships to help coastal shipping bring supplies and auxiliary ships to free the ice-bound canals for the coal barges. Food Minister Oliver Strachey said that he did not think the fuel crisis would last long enough to necessitate food ration cuts or shortages. But many villagers are completely snow-bound and cannot get their rations. RAJ1, planes were to drop food containers to them today. Bitterly low temperatures in many parts of Europe have dislocated transport, held up food supplies and clogged the wheels of industry. The freezing of German inland waterways has deprived Hamburg of coal. A message from Portland (Oregon) says that the crew of a British steamer at Hartington has struck, demanding that 10,000 tons of coal loaded there for Singapore be diverted to England.

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