Friday 26 November 2010

The Haunted Tinsley Flight

As we are now starting to enter the winter season. A time when we should all be snug and warm in our boats. Stoves glowing with a deep red heat. Listening to the lap - lap of the water again the boat sides. listening to the stories from along the canal. My story is one about the canal route into Sheffield. Which is located on the River Don, however the upper reaches of the river have never been navigable. Proposals to link Sheffield to the navigable Don at Tinsley were made as early as 1697, but these came to nothing. In 1815, the Sheffield Canal Company obtained by Act of Parliament an order to construct a canal. The surveyors' route was to leave the River Don at Jordan's Lock, along the south side of the Don Valley, to terminate at a basin near the city centre. This would require a series of locks at Carbrook and Tinsley to raise the level from the river for a level flow into the city centre.

There are many stories told of dark deeds perpetrated along this canal. However, there is no story worse than the tale of the boat people, whose long lost souls are still to this day haunting the Carbrook and Tinsley flight.

T'was the night of all hallows; all along the canal;
Was heard the eerie calls, of the night bird chorale;
Startled fright at the noise, my back a cold shiver;
Was it the owl in the oak tree, down by the river.

Could it be Kit Crewbucket, come to give you a fright;
A shrieking bogart, stalking you this moonlight night;
Look in Harecastle Tunnel, for that's her usual abode;
Cooking up your breakfast, with frog newt and toad.

But I was here at Tinsley, in the pound betwixt the locks;
Far away from Harecastle, was the noise made by a Fox;
But reynard stayed underground; in a much safer place;
He knew that something bad, was happening at this place.

It was a ghostly creak, that had given me such a shock;
As the unmanned gates open, to reveal an empty lock;
A faint sound of a horse, along the tow path run;
The whistle of the old boatman, one known as Gun.

Clip-clop getting louder, hair standing on my neck;
My feet are just frozen, by fear to the deck;
Ripples cross the surface, the water deep and black,
The sound of the boatman's whip, crack - crack - crack.

In to view slowly, came the hard working horse;
Tight tow line behind, showed the effort and the force;
Hot breath was streaming, out from its nose;
My heart skipped a beat, in fact I think it froze.

Clip-clop past me, the horse just walked on by;
A fire deep inside, came out through its eye;
Behind the horse, the ancient boatman walked;
His dog at his heel, as wolf like it stalked.

Cold the boatman's breath, rising up into the air;
Head turned my way, his hot eyes in a vacant stare;
Onward he silently walked, into the dark cold night;
Cold shivers down my back, it was a terrible sight.

Then into view the boat, came upon the water;
Steered at the back, by Gun's sombre daughter;
Ghostly face creased, into a crooked smile;
Her moans and groans, sounding oh so vile.

Into the distance they went, away from the lock;
Fast fading the sound, of horse clip and clop;
With a wolf like howl, and an odour strong;
My fear ever growing, as they passed along.

Another creak from behind, gave yet another shock;
Gates slowly swinging closed, on an unmanned empty lock;
Clattering sound of paddles, as they raised inside the gate;
Water rushing out of the lock, at an ever increasing rate.

Fear and dread now gripped me, when would this all end;
My thoughts are all shattered, I still can't comprehend;
I hear the sound of a Bolinder, at a steady pulsing pace;
Smell of the hot engine, on the breeze straight to my face.

Rising into the lock, came a boat all sleek and black;
Carrying a cargo of timber, piled up high in a stack;
The gates once more open, this time there's no sound;
And standing at the tiller, a number one long since drowned.

Gliding past me at, a slow but steady pace;
Facing straight ahead, never looking at my face;
Into the dank dark night, engine sound slow fading;
The narrowboat continuing, its ghostly way of trading.

I turning in fear to get away, from this haunted place;
I tripped on a mooring rope, and fell flat upon my face;
Scrambling to my feet, I was now wide awake;
T'was just a terrible dream, the memory's now opaque.

Climbing onto the deck, cold air to clear my mind;
Snow flakes are falling, on last night's frosty rime;
Startled with a fright, in the snow I clearly saw;
The outline of foot prints, a hoof, a foot, a paw.

The Tinsley flight is haunted, it was said to me before;
The story being told at the time, then seemed such a bore;
Of a time when boat cargo, was shared by man and wife;
Working boats and their families, found it hard just to survive.

T'is a story told by the lockies, whenever you go up or down;
Of the old time number one, and of the way he drowned;
And of the daughter of old man Gun, who was to be his wife;
The way she ended her broken heart, suicide with a knife.

He was waiting at Jordan's for his love, to come to his side;
Walking across the weir, a hurled stone broke his stride;
Falling in the deep water, he was carried into the rough;
Tumbling over and over, until his body cried enough.

Who threw the stone, no one found to take blame;
Gun with a steely heart, that could never feel shame;
Never could work a boat alone, daughter needed at the tiller;
But she knew full well, that her father was the killer.

Dead at Peacocks bridge, her belongings scattered round;
Hear her moan and groan as you pass, her legacy of sound;
A locket with a faded face, with a small sprig of jet black hair;
She travels the canal each night, in search of her illicit love affair.

So now my fellow boater, if you're feeling quite brave;
If its ghostly excitement, that you seem to crave;
Climb the flight if you dare; but count them every one;
Confront your darkest terror, and feel your fear rerun.

Come and see the number one, as he pursues his long lost love;
Come and hear the Bolinder, smell the exhaust smoke above;
Come and see Gun and his dog, the horse walking on alone;
Come and meet Gun's daughter, a withered smiling crone.

To the South Yorkshire Navigation, you must point your bow;
Go straight forward to the end, why you could do it now;
When you get to Jordan's weir, if your soul you would save;
Don't forget to doff your hat, at the drowned boatman's grave.

Take care to count each lock, as you ascend up the flight;
If the count is less than twelve, for you a restless night;
The twelve lock climb at Tinsley, is only for the very brave;
Ghosts and ghouls will gather round, the ones who misbehave.

Take heed of the warning, that I now give to you all;
The way of the Ghosts and Ghouls, is not a story tall;
If you would not spend eternity, along the night towpath;
Don't upset the Ghouls and Wraiths, don't invoke their wrath.


  1. I loved this story but am dying to know which one of you wrote the poem? Amazing :-)

    1. Hi Peggy. I have just noticed your comment ...

      The author of the poem is Mick its one of a number that he has blogged as the 'alternative canal laureate'


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