All’s well with Window on the World! After the gleaming success of the lifting of Mossdale the project has gone from strength to strength. We’ve commissioned a conservator to conduct an assessment of the Mossdale now she’s out on dry land, and plans for George’s fun-packed voyage on the canal network are coming together swimmingly…
Over the past couple of months, the Window on the World team have been developing plans to work with an inspirational group of waterways heritage enthusiasts known as Burscough Heritage Group and H & R Ainscough Barge Preservation Society. These two groups work in close partnership to preserve and promote the North West’s grand waterways heritage up in the renowned canal village of Burscough, Lancashire.
And what a fantastic job they have done so far!
Burscough Heritage Group was formed with the vision of documenting and promoting the social and industrial history of the village, and paying tribute to the canal as the key to the village’s development. Every year, the group plays host to an enriching programme of events and activities which celebrate the village’s heritage and the golden age of Britain’s canals, including traditional canal crafts such as rag rugging, crocheting and boat painting.
Meanwhile H&R Ainscough Preservation Society was established with the ambitious aim of preserving and restoring two historic steel wide boats built in the 1930s by W.J Yardwood and Sons. The Society is headed by Derek Bent, a former canal boatman and a fountain of knowledge on these rare surviving wide canal vessels.
Helen, (education coordinator for the Trust’s Museums and Attractions and fellow Window on the World-er), and I were lucky enough to nab the chance to meet these groups of dedicated and passionate individuals up in Burscough to discuss our project and their potential involvement in the project, in particular George’s journey along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
We were warmly welcomed by the group in their picturesque canalside dwellings opposite Burscough Wharf; a historic site on the canal which formerly housed stables and warehouses, but has been transformed into a stunning entertainment venue in the heart of the village.
We were then whisked off on a fascinating historic tour of Burscough which included a nosy around the former stables, a stroll along the towpath passing the former Ainscough Flour Mills and a dry dock at Top Locks, and a trip to New Lane Cottages (which were once the homes of the Burscough boatmen) – what a busy morning we had!
The afternoon soon arrived and we found ourselves dining with the group in a hearty English pub in Crooke Village, before we ventured out to the canal banks where we met Viktoria and Ambush – two rare surviving Ainscough Mill boats which devoted Derek is working incredibly hard to restore. We even got to clamber on board and peer into the cabin quarters!
It truly was a fantastic day, and we felt incredibly privileged to get to meet and tour the village with such an enthusiastic, hardworking and knowledgeable group of people who were so keen to get involved in the ‘George’ side of our heritage project. And we can’t wait to see them here at the National Waterways Museum very soon!
Until next time…
The National Waterways Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of artefacts that tell the story of Britain’s canals and navigable rivers over the last 300 years. With sites at Ellesmere Port and Gloucester, the museum holds over 12,000 historic objects and 68 historic boats and is designated by the Arts Council England as of national importance. The National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port is also home to the Waterways Archive including over 100,000 papers, drawings photographs, plans and books relating to the waterways – a vital part of our national cultural heritage.
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