Canal Campaigners on Film

From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Winter 2021

Joseph Boughey

Joseph Boughey explores archive footage of canal characters and restoration pioneers, including Robert Aickman and David Hutchings

The Media Archive for Central England (MACE) is a charity set up to digitise moving images relating to the East and West Midlands. Supported by the University of Lincoln, it hosts a wide range of material, including amateur and public films.Canal Millionaire Some items simply provide perspectives of waterway scenes that have since changed but a small number offer further insights. In Canal Millionaire, an eight-minute TV broadcast on 4th December 1972, the presenter, Derek Hobson (later of New Faces) followed Ernest Thomas (1896–1973) on a boat trip from Calf Heath, where his pleasure-boat fleet was based. Mr Thomas recalled his life as a carrier, stressing the long hours involved: “I remember, once in my life, when I worked eight days – never had my boots off. I was carrying roadstone from Bradley Bilston to Shebdon. I did three boats, 90 tons, and emptied it, wheeled it down planks, onto the wharf, and the only thing we changed was the horse. But I worked eight d…

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