Barging into history

Over the past few weeks we’ve made some notable developments for the project. The initial survey of Mossdale has been completed and we’re preparing for her long-awaited lift from the water.

On my side of things, I’ve had another exciting week; I was lucky enough to venture up North for a visit to Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society Founder and President Mike Clarke, and his remarkable collection of archives.

After spending hours upon hours hunting for hidden treasures in the museum’s archive to discern more about our Leeds & Liverpool Canal boat George, I felt it was time for another research voyage. Who better to meet with than Mike Clarke, President of the L&L Canal Society and a former owner of L&L boat Pluto? Mike’s books had become equally as intrinsic to my George research as Mike Stammers’ ‘Mersey Flats and Flatmen’ had been to uncovering Mossdale’s heritage. Naturally, I was delighted to receive an email confirming a date to visit.

On the morning of my journey up North, I dumped my crammed project file and bulky camera in the back of my car, and eagerly began the 80-mile drive to Barnoldswick. Two-and-a-bit hours later I arrived, slightly red from road rage, but still in positive spirits nonetheless…

After a chat about Window on the World, Leeds & Liverpool Canal craft and Mike’s work on the Kennet project, he generously offered to share some of the relevant material stored in his goldmine of archives. I was pretty astounded at the amount of archival evidence he had stored – and how meticulously organised it was too. I sheepishly slid my cluttered file under my chair out of site, silently promising myself I'd have a serious sort-out back in the office!

Mike dug out a selection of relevant files for the project; amongst these were a selection of images of Mossdale and George during the 70s and 80s at the museum, horse boating reports written by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company in the late 19th century, newspaper cuttings, memoirs and photographs of female boat trainees on the Leeds & Liverpool, interviews with people who once lived and worked on canals, and various historical documents surrounding this particular canal. He very kindly gave me some of this research material to take back to the museum to support my research endeavours.

Mike’s archive documents have provided some useful insights into the history of the Leeds & Liverpool vessels, and the tales of those who lived and worked on this canal back when George was a coal carrier. Massive thanks to Mike for sharing his vast knowledge and research to support the development of our Window on the World project. Things are really starting to come together – don’t forget to keep checking back here to find out more about the project as it progresses…

Last date edited: 7 October 2013

About this blog

National Waterways Museum

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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