Sutcliffe’s Sounding Gear

Canal Curios: NarrowBoat, Winter 2019

Sarah Henshaw

Sarah Henshaw investigates a canal precursor of the echo sounder

Recently my husband dropped his wedding ring into the canal. He was dusting his palms on the top of his jeans one moment, the next watching it spin gaily towards the water like a coin flung to the Trevi Fountain. We had been married only eight months, which perhaps explains his surprising readiness to don swimming shorts and bare chest in November and jump in after the ring. All dutiful concern, I stood by with a towel/secret camera/relevant Bee Gees lyrics. “How deep is your love?” I exclaimed, encouragingly. “More pertinently, how deep’s this canal?” he answered. And this, I suppose, is where Sutcliffe’s sounding wheel would have come into its own. Detective work For an instrument that’s supposed to fathom the depths, knowledge of it is disappointingly shallow. In fact, when an audit of the Small Objects Store at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port revealed a pair of them, staff and volunteers were left scratching their heads. T…

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