Deadly Cargo at Braunston

Time and Place: NarrowBoat, Spring 2020

Kerry Dainty

Kerry Dainty looks back on a severe cholera outbreak at the canal village in 1834

A lot of people have heard the tale of when cholera came to Braunston, but the account that is repeated in the history books is based on a newspaper story written nearly 80 years after the event by a man who hadn’t been a twinkle in his father’s eye when the church bells tolled for the dead. He said himself that “there are very few living now who remember it” and in 1911 he didn’t have access to archives that provide the real details of the epidemic.Boatman carrier Late in September 1834, a boat came into Braunston with a young man at the tiller. He wasn’t local, he was just one of the increasing number of boatmen who passed through the village as the canals gained ground. His boat headed through Braunston Tunnel and he must have chatted to Robert Padmore and the other leggers. Perhaps Robert told the newcomer about the recent death of a little boy, Joseph Masters, the son of a local farmer who regularly supplied the canal horses with grazing and ha…

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