The Monk's Tale

A Broader Outlook: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2014

Ian Monk

Ian Monk recalls one notable day for his boatman father, Jimmy Monk

My father’s working day started in Adlington, Chorley, which is where the business, James Monk & Sons, was based, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. He set off as usual about 5.30am for the hour’s drive (before motorways) to Barton Swing Aqueduct where he had left the empty boat that he was going to load that day. It was important to arrive there early to get the boat over the ‘Tank’, as the aqueduct is known locally, before it was swung off to let the ships along the Manchester Ship Canal in and out of Trafford Park. In one of the two houses at the side of the Tank lived Alice with her husband. Alice was a very good friend to the boaters. My father parked his van outside her house every morning and went in for a cup of tea before going over the footbridge to the boat on the off-side to light a fire in the cabin and get the engine started. On very cold mornings he would take a few hot cinders from Alice’s fire on a shovel to get the fire in the cabin…

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