Alice Lapworth (1944 to 2024)

Life Afloat: NarrowBoat, Summer 2024

Tim Coghlan explores the life of a former working boatwoman who recently passed away

Alice Lapworth will likely be known to a good number of NB readers. Not only was she born on a horse-drawn narrowboat and worked the canals until 1963, she also maintained a passionate involvement in the waterways, which saw her become a stalwart of heritage events. Born on a boat Alice’s story began in September 1944, when boatman George Wain and his heavily pregnant wife Annie tied up their horse-drawn butty Etruria at Tunstall – a village on the Trent & Mersey Canal, near the southern end of Harecastle Tunnel. They had come there as they each had ex-boating relatives living in cottages beside the canal. The relatives could help with the birth and look after their two existing children. There was also a good hospital nearby, and George and Annie wanted to have all their children born in hospital. On the morning of 21st September, Annie and George went to that hospital thinking that the baby was starting to arrive. After an examination, however, the midwife sent …

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