Slow Boat through Pennine Waters
by Frederic Doerflinger
I picked this book up on spec, part of a private collection being sold to members of the BCN Society.
I was kind of attracted by the title, echoing the Roger Pilkington books but covering the northern waterways of England. However, I am not a fan of wannabe publications so I feared the worst.
I shouldn't have worried - the book turned out to be an absolute cracker. And as for being a copycat Pilkington, Doerflinger was a regular member of the Commodore's crew on its European travels and the Pilkingtons were frequent guests on the Doerflingers travels.
I guess it's therefore not surprising that there was more than a touch of the Pilkington format about this book, a mix of travel, history and bankside anecdote. In fact it is a considerably more readable book than its continental cousin and whilst he comments on the surroundings he stops short of medieval flights of fantasy on which Pilkington can overdose.
Then there is the subject matter. Doerflinger is covering the Northern waterways in the late 1960's and published in 1971. It covers a lesser known part of the canals at a time when there was still significant commercial traffic plying these chunky waters, supplying a vibrant industry.
This is an area I particularly love, and one we are planning to revisit this summer.
If you have a yen for the northern canals in a recent historical context, this is a book for you.