Thursday 2 August 2012

Pennine Passage - book review

Pennine Passage
A History of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal
by Michael and Peter Fox

This was another of those speculative purchases, on this occasion trawled from the inland waterways box of the WRG's stall at the Chesterfield Canal Festival.

My search is always for the interesting and obscure, but anything covering the Huddersfield Narrow tends to catch my eye. You all know my fascination with this unique canal!

So I enthusiastically grabbed this 60 page Huddersfield Canal Society booklet published, I would guess, in about 1988 (I can't see a date).

Whilst  I have previously read a very comprehensive history of the canal, and its rebirth, this one is both shorter, different, and in many ways better. It is divided into four distinct sections:

1. The beginnings of the canal
2. The making of then canal
3. The working years
4. Revival and restoration

This author uses masses of original source material, which really bring the story to life. I was particularly gripped by the account of the tunnel which still stands as one of the Inland Waterway's greatest triumphs. There are accounts of the plans, the setbacks, bugdet problems, changes of engineer and somewhat sadly, a tally of the traffic carried in the later years as through traffic spluttered to a halt after which the bore stood silent and empty for decades. 

Perhaps the best bit about the booklet is the lovely collection of black and white photos it contains. My favourite is a moody shot of the Marsden portal at the turn of the century, set in the context of the three railway tunnels it helped create. This is just a sample image - its well worth getting a  copy for the rest.


Ian and Karen said...

What a lovely photo! Helps to bring to life the view we know now.
We have really enjoyed cruising the HNC again. The challenges certainly are outweighed by the wonderful scenery and villages. We love it too!

Helen said...

Read your review and have now ordered the book due to my interest in the history of the Huddersfield Narrow canal.
Also, we read your blog on the HNC before we set off on our trip last Summer... It was lovely to read your positive comments and enthusiasm after reading/hearing some negatives about the canal.
We had a brilliant time and we will certainly be returning.
Keep up the good work on your website - very interesting.
nb Coventina