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A Twist in the Tale

Early on the morning of Monday 19th July 1880, a pair of horse boats loaded with chalk left Stoke Hammond lock, where they had been stopping over since Sunday. On the first boat were eighteen year old George Masey, one of Birch's employees, who was driving the horse, and another employee, John Twist, who was steering. I believe that John Twist was born in Birmingham in 1858, the son of John Twist, a...

Taking photos for Canalside Property

The photograph shown above is an example of an ideal photograph. The property in this instance was the third house from the right. Photos should be landscape (wide), bright and sunny if possible, and a good reslution. If you can include the canal in your image that would be perfect! Make sure that the house itself as close as possible to the centre of the photos, not to the left or right (which would be...

The Coal Man and the Goat

When I posted the picture below, of a house up for auction in Lydiate, it sparked vivid memories for Kev at Bickerstaffe Boats. It turns out that he knew the property well when he was a young lad of thirteen....

Private Stafford Hope Venton

Stafford Hope Venton was born in Taunton, Somerset, in 1892. He was the only child of William Venton and Beatrice Maud, nee Pidgeon, but he may also have had a half sister, Alice, who was born before Stafford’s parents married....

Semington Lock House

From before 1891 to after 1912, the lockkeeper at Semington was Edwin Brown. Edwin was maried to Rosanna and had two children, Edwin Ernest James Brown, born 2 Jan 1874, and Alberta Rosina Brown, born in 1881....

Lockkeepers on the Kennet and Avon Canal 1911

Recently I set myself the task of identifying all the lockkeepers on the Kennet and Avon Canal in the 1911 Census. It was quite a challenge to list all the locks and add as many names as possible, without being too distracted by their stories! Most of the lockkeepers at this time were employed by the Great Western Railway, but some were employed by the Canal Company....

Francis Bailey at Sydney Lock

Francis Herbert Bailey was born in Wingfield, south of Bradford upon Avon, in the summer of 1869. His father, Thomas, was a master carpenter, and his mother Ann was the daughter of an agricultural labourer. Francis had two older brothers, Albert and Charles....

Kennet and Avon Canal

The idea of building the Kennet and Avon Canal was batted around for several centuries before the first turf was turned. It was a long held ambition, fuelled by the possibility of avoiding both treacherous seas and marauding privateers, to link the Bristol Channel in the west with the Thames in the east, creating an inland route across England. The two stretches of river at each end of the route were...

Private William Hutchins

William Hutchins was born in Devizes on June 8th 1877. William's mother, Martha, nee Dally, didn't have the best start in life. Her mother died when she was only a year old. At the age of 16, in 1855, Martha and her sister Mary Ann were convicted of stealing a muslin de laine dress, which they then sold on to a shop....

Boat Registration Numbers

If you spot an old boat on the waterways and you want to find its age it is helpful to know that the registration numbers were allocated in batches. This list, arranged chronologically, gives the dates these numbers were first registered on British Waterways waters....

Devizes Bathing Place, Kennet and Avon

The idea of a bathing place in the canal for the youth of Devizes first cropped up in 1870. A particular supporter of the scheme was Mr Charles Clarke, who was in the habit of walking to the railway bridge below Foxhangers to swim. He took it upon himself to contact the GWR and negotiate the use of an area of canal....

George Hawkins – Drowning or Suicide?

George Hawkins was born in Melksham and married Elizabeth Ada Douse in 1872. They had eight children, five boys and three girls. From the 1870s until the early 1890s the family lived at 42-43 Northgate in Devizes, where George ran a registered slaughter house and butcher's shop. By 1890 he was advertising the business to let....

Sarah Gerrish, cake seller, drowned near Semington in 1862

Sarah Gerrish was born in Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland, in about 1807. Her father may have been serving or training at the British barracks in Clonmel, which had recently been extended in anticipation of an invasion by Napoleon. During the Napoleonic wars the barracks were largely occupied by militia units, such as the Armagh and North Cork militias, while the regular Regiments fought in the wars. I have...

Four Young Men drowned near All Cannings

On Sunday the 27th of December 1846 at about 6 o'clock five strapping young men left All Cannings on a walk to Stanton St Bernard, via the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, a distance of about one and a half miles. The canal was frozen over, and the lads walked part of the way on the ice. They were fine young men, all about six feet tall....

Calder and Hebble Navigation

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Aire and Calder Navigation had made the River Calder navigable as far upstream as Wakefield. The aim of the Calder and Hebble Navigation was to extend navigation west (upstream) from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge near Halifax....

House Prices by Local Authority Area

I thought it would be interesting to examine average house prices across England and consider how these affect the prices of canalside properties. This table shows average house prices for all local authority areas in England in January 2018, in ascending order. I started editing these listings to show only local authorities where there are canals and canal navigations, but this is incomplete, sorry!...

The 1/23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers, Central India, 1865-6 © Royal Welch Fusiliers Regimental Museum 2019

Murder on the Llangollen Canal

I recently researched the story of Thomas Newbrook of Whixall, who attempted to drown himself in the Llangollen Canal near Platt Lane on 10th June 1883. This led me on to another fascinating story which involved Thomas: the murder of his employer William Powell, by Round Thorn Bridge, on 17th November 1887. I will tell both stories here....

Wyrley and Essington Canal

The Wyrley and Essington Canal is nicknamed the Curly Wyrley, at it was built entirely on the level, following the contoyrs of the land. This has the advantage of allowing over sixteen miles of lock-free navigation....

Aire and Calder Navigation

The Aire and Calder Navigation was conceived as an improvement to navigation on the River Aire (from the River Ouse at Airmyn via Castleford to Leeds) and on the River Calder (from Castleford to Wakefield). The proposal was principally motivated by wool traders in Leeds and general merchants in Wakefield....

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