Charles Hadfield and the Early IWA

From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Summer 2021

Joseph Boughey

Joseph Boughey examines records documenting the canal historian’s role in the formation of the IWA 75 years ago

Charles Hadfield, undoubtedly Britain’s leading waterways historian of the 20th century, died 25 years ago. The Inland Waterways Association, which he helped to found, is 75 years old this year. One of his many files in the Waterways Archive at Ellesmere Port sheds light on the early days of the IWA, showing the useful evidence that private letters can provide.Tom Rolt correspondence After it was deposited in London in 1978-9, the file ‘Hadfield 10/16’, which covered correspondence with famous author Tom (L.T.C.) Rolt, remained closed for 30 years. Hadfield wrote a note on its cover: “Rolt’s letters should be kept. Someone might well write his biography one day.” If this were to happen, the file would indeed prove useful. It opens with a letter from Rolt, dated 4th July 1945, answering correspondence of appreciation over Narrow Boat from Charles Hadfield, who he claimed was one of only two from “pre-existing canal enthusiasts”. On 13th…

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