Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Inland Sailors

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. 

Northern Star
Monday 1 May 1939

Inland Sailors

One result of Britain's chronic unemployment is that there have never been so many opportunities to learn new trades. Under scores of different schemes men thrown out of the over crowded basic industries are being trained to fill vacancies in the trades which are short of labour. The latest and most novel project is that the State should set up a "college" for bargees. Unlike the sea-going merchant navy, the barges. which ply Britain's inland waterways are undermanned. The Minister of Labour is now considering founding a training centre to teach young unemployed men the skilled job of navigating big barges along narrow canals. The leisurely days of the horse-drawn barge are passing, and the modern bargee must learn all about diesel engines and be come a mechanic as well as a mere helmsman. It is even proposed that the new recruits should be taught cookery, in case some of them have to face a bachelor life in the snug cabin of their barges.

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