From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Winter 2016
Joseph Boughey looks at how the social history of the waterways can be explored on spellweaver-online.co.uk - a website dedicated to boating ancestors that has been set up by two enthusiasts with boating ancestors from Runcorn and the Thames.
When the lives of individual boat people are researched, the results can often go beyond individual names and family trees, to create a much greater understanding of the social history of our waterways. This article considers one website dedicated to boating ancestors, but which contains a good deal of useful material for waterway historians. spellweaver-online.co.uk was set up by two enthusiasts with boating ancestors from Runcorn and the Thames. It mainly covers newspaper excerpts for England and Wales, transcribed from a number of sources, but with other items, like parish registers from Midlands’ churches, and even some photographs. A section called ‘Boatmen in the News’ highlights several newspaper stories that provide insights into the lives of boat people, with many relating to drownings or assaults in which boat people were involved, often as witnesses and sometimes assisting in rescues. I will focus here on the newspaper excerpts. Reverend Fowkes The Yorks…