Zooming The Waterways. 13th March

Last week Mick got a call from Sean at SPL Covers saying he’d finished repairing Oleanna’s pram and cratch cover, he’d returned to the marina and popped them back on. The only thing was that when the main part of the pram hood was taken away Mick had popped the sides inside Oleanna for safe keeping. With snow and possible high winds forecast we wanted to get the sides back on as soon as possible to keep the weather off.

Mick considered heading to Goole the same day, but he’d only get about 50 minutes before he’d need to be on a train heading back to Scarborough. Taking the bike would make this more possible, but should a ship be entering or leaving the docks at the wrong moment, he’d end up missing the train and have to spend the night on Oleanna. So instead he headed to Goole the following morning, a light dusting of snow having appeared overnight. We hoped that the Wolds wouldn’t get a major dumping so that the route would stay open. Thankfully the east coast only got sleet.

Cratch cover back on

Photos were the last thing on Mick’s mind as he put the sides back on the pram hood, it was far too cold! I’ll just have to wait to see the new window first hand. He was back safe and warming up in the house mid afternoon and Oleanna was now snow and wind proof once again.

A while ago I answered an online survey to do with C&RT. I can’t quite remember what it was about, but did remember ticking a box to say I’d be willing to take part in more market research. This led to a phone call inviting me to take part in a zoom focus group this evening. I had to answer some questions prior to the meeting all to do with my relationship to the waterways and how I felt about Canal and River Trust. Some of my answers were short, others far longer, especially the one about the Trust’s strengths and weaknesses.

The focus group this evening was made up of five liveaboard boaters. I was the only one sat in a house! We introduced ourselves, two boats were on the Grand Union, one on the Mon and Brec, the other I can’t remember where they said they were. Ages ranged from twenties to sixty five.

We were asked about many things to do with the waterways, what they meant to us, wellbeing, nature, the environment, history and our thoughts on C&RT. Tag lines were discussed. The drop in funding and reduction of maintenance. The big thing that came across from all was C&RT communication skills and at times how bad they are. Yes there were the comments regarding maintenance and facilities, but there was also very much a feeling of let us boaters help, involve the boating community, encourage us to respect what we have and to help keep it in good order. Looking after the waterways will then bring nature, wellbeing along with it.

Sunday walk at the seaside

The lady conducting the focus group said that there were other people being brought together from different user groups, presumably different types of boaters, paddleboarders, fishers, swimmers. All being asked to comment on the same tag lines. It would be interesting to hear how the different groups commented.

We then had a rushed evening meal before settling down infront of the laptop again. This time we were joining Kate Saffin for a talk about the Boaters Strike in 1923. On 13th August 1923 the canal in Braunston made the national headlines. The traffic on the canal was brought to a halt after Fellows Morton and Clayton had announced that the boaters were to have a pay cut of 6.5%.

Boats blocked the arm, an attempt to remove tons of tea and sugar cargo from the boats by FMC was thwarted on the first attempt. Police were drafted in for a second attempt, which was very noisy but three boats were finally unloaded.

Striking boaters

The strike continued for 14 weeks. Children got to attend the village school (now the village hall), the longest they’d ever be in class. Socialising was possible with friends and family they’d only normally get to see passing on the cut.

Fifty to Sixty boats blocked all routes into Braunston. The population of the village swelled from just over 1000 to 1300, putting great pressure on the local facilities. Back then the boaters didn’t use elsans or pumpouts, they normally emptied their potties behind their boats as they set off, the prop churning it into the water. With no boats moving for weeks, it must have been horrendous.

Alarum Productions have been awarded funding from the Arts Council to produce a ‘full-on’ community project in Braunston to mark the 100th anniversary of the strike. Braunston 1920s : 2020s. Telling stories from the 1920’s which has a lot of parallels with the 2020’s. Writing and drama workshops, local history research will all come together in June to produce promenade performances around the village, telling stories where they happened coinciding with Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally.

Decorating and other jobs continue in the house. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to climb up and down a ladder to sand, paint or paper. Next it’ll be curtains.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 months flea, 12 months worms, 1 extra month, 1 travel sickness pill, 5 boaters opinions, 1 Eat Me brunch, 300 strikers, 1 bedroom nearly papered, 1 onion, 4 knobs, 1 more shade of blue, 1 contract, 1 weather tight Oleanna.

8 thoughts on “Zooming The Waterways. 13th March

  1. Anonymous

    Is that a Routmaster seat moquette scarf Mick has round his neck?
    NB ‘Red Wharf’

  2. Pip Post author

    Hi Dave.
    Those platforms are great but nowhere near tall enough for our victorian ceilings sadly.

    1. Pip Post author

      There are chemicals in onions that neutralise the smell of fresh paint.

  3. Amos Meyers

    Pip, this is amazing. I’ve been following your blog for about 3+ years now. My wife and I have been yearly holiday boaters from the US since 2013 (except for you know what). This past week I presented a talk on canal and narrowboating for a group in my community. I discovered the information about the 1923 strike, for the first time, and shared it a part of my talk. It is an amazing coincidence to see the same information here in your blog. We will be back on The Cut in September. Stay well and knit fast. Amos Meyers

    1. Pip Post author

      Thank you Amos, my needles are going to have yo go like the wind.
      I suspect there will be more information about the strike in the performances around Braunston, Kate has been talking to lots of locals and collecting more stories.
      Maybe our paths will cross in September, if they do make sure you say hello.

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