A Pointer to the Past

From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Spring 2024

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy uncovers unusual canal-related photos from the 1950s and finds out more

Sometimes you catch a fleeting glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye, but it’s only when you turn your head that you appreciate the significance of what you are seeing. Well, that was pretty much my experience when I first encountered the photographic records of the post-war Minor Revision Point Survey. A bit of context To be fair, the legwork for this research was undertaken by Duncan Moore who was trawling various council archives in the West Midlands, looking for photos of abandoned sections of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It was during one of these visits that he came across a series of photos that can best be described as curious. Among the many street scenes, there were a liberal number of canal-related images or, to be more accurate, partial canal shots. Rather annoyingly, centre stage in all these old photos were men holding 2ft-long white wooden arrows and information boards bearing reference data. At first glance the almost-comedic arrow-wielding g…

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