George Hancock's Family Album

Life Afloat: NarrowBoat, Spring 2014

NarrowBoat takes a look through the photographs of a boating family based in Leighton Buzzard on the Grand Union Canal

George Hancock was born on a working narrowboat in 1926 but, unlike many boat children, he lived ashore from the age of five so that he could go to school. His parents, Frederick and Matilda (née Stokes), worked for several companies in the Leighton Buzzard area including Garsides and Bushell Bros. They took sand from Garsides quarries to Paddington and brought back loads of timber, or manure from the city’s thousands of horses for a farmer at Cheddington. There were two competing sand companies at Leighton Buzzard: George Garside and Joseph Arnold. The boatmen worked in the sandpits when boat work was slack. George’s mother had worked on boats with donkeys and mules and recalled that it was rough on her feet when walking with animals as she never had decent shoes. Then she worked with horses which pulled two boats. His mother once had to rescue George with a boat hook after he fell in – she couldn’t swim. George’s parents realised that he and hi…

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George Hancock's Family Album featured image