We've unveiled a plaque to commemorate boaters’ efforts during the two world wars. The plaque was officially unveiled by Peter Mathews CMG, partnership chair for the Canal & River Trust West Midlands, at our Cambrian Wharf office in central Birmingham.
Peter Mathews said: “It’s such an honour to be able to reveal this plaque; the role played by boaters during both the first and the second world wars is one that often gets overlooked and to be able to celebrate the important work they did during these key periods in history is fantastic.”
Alice Lapworth, author of A Horse, A Boat, And You, was instrumental in championing the commemoration. Alice grew up on the canals, married a boatman and raised a family on the boats, and the book describes her personal story about a way of life which is gone forever.
Alice said: “I’m really happy to be able to commemorate the efforts of the boaters, many of whom I knew, who played a part between 1914 and 1945. Growing up, working and living on the canals was hard, with long hours and cramped conditions, but it was a happy time and it’s great to see that so many people are interested in this forgotten way of life.”
The plaque marks the start of our major oral history project, to capture people’s personal stories and memories of the canals and rivers and record them for posterity in the national waterway archive. We will be holding a series of activities throughout the year and we're calling on people to come forward and share their recollections of the waterways, which will be archived to keep the story of the waterways alive for generations to come.