Archives Pick & Choose

From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2013

Joseph Boughey

Joseph Boughey discovers a ‘secret’ report in the National Archives that would have had devastating effects on our waterways if implemented

Some research follows the fortunes of a single navigation, while other research cuts across the affairs of various waterway undertakings. The latter can be illuminated by documents that cover waterways in general. This article discusses a single file, dealing with policy, in the National Archives; an unamended copy is in the National Waterways Archives at Ellesmere Port. Some documents in the National Archives are marked “Secret and confidential”. Secrecy might be justified on the grounds of national security, especially in wartime, or because publication would cause some difficulties for government. A large file, entitled Canals: Mr Frank Pick’s Report, in the Ministry of Transport files (MT52/109), only available there since 1985, provides examples of both. The file includes both the report prepared by Pick and his later amendments. Short sections “which may be harmful” are crossed out; these include details of possible traffics and poor facilities on …

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