Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Waterways Journal - Volume 1

Waterways Journal
Volume 1 - 1999
July 2010

I stumbled across this little gem about six weeks ago, as I was perusing the stock of Gailey Lock bookshop.

This is the first of 12 editions lovingly researched and published by The Boat Museum Society of Ellesmere Port, one each year.

Its quite a scholarly work and very far removed from the sort of "history lite" you get in my blog, but there are times when detailed and academic works are good - very good.

I thought I would start at the beginning and, if the publication was any good, work my way through the editions. So what did I think?

This first edition, with the 1999 date subsequently covered up with a "Voolume 1" sticker carries four works:

Steam and Diesel on the Bridgewater Canal. Ever wondered why the Bridgewater is so deep, given it was the first one built? Its because they introduced steam tugs to pull deep drafted boats, and dredged the canal to take them at the turn of the century. The story of the evolution of engines on the canal is told in great detail, and is full of fascinating facts.

British Canal History in Perspective. Thought that the UK's canals were are the cutting edge (excuse the pun) of waterway development? Not a bit of it - all the essentials like locks, aqueducts and tunnels had been built on the continent long before. Its just that in England all the components for the industrial revolution were close together and our weeny little canals stitched them together in a  short space of time. This item will boarden your England centric perspective.

Cruising the Llangollen and Shrewsbury Canals 1939. Want to read a first hand diary account of just about the last boat to make it (nearly) to Shrewsbury? The item tells of a Mt T Wheeldon and his journey from Chester. He covered most of the last few miles bow hauling the skiff though dense weed only to be halted at Berwick Tunnel. Read this account and maybe I wont be the only person captivated by this long lost waterway of Shropshire.

The Canals of England and Wales - the Future They Never Had. An insightful study into what the canals could have become, given a bit more investment at the right time. We so nearly had a lockless contour canal sat 310 feet above sea level joining London, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Chester, Manchester and even Newcastle. If the second world war hadn't happened it might have come to pass. I think that maybe I like our twisting historic relics, but the insight into the many abortive attempts to reinvigorate the network gives plenty of food for thought.

So, If you fancy a "meaty read" this is the publication for you. £5.95 for a 72 page booklet may seem a bit steep, but at £1.50 for each detailed research article it is well worth the money.
Will I buy more? - you bet I will!

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