Happy Valley Boating
From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2017
Using multiple sources, Joseph Boughey traces the history of a short-lived leisure company called Happy Valley Boating that operated on the Stratford Canal in the 1920s.
This feature follows on from a piece by Colin Scrivener (Winter 2013, NB), which included photographs of a section of the Stratford Canal, on the fringe of Birmingham, known until the 1930s as ‘Happy Valley’. Centred on a stretch of waterway next to the road bridge at Yardley Wood, the site included rowing boats, a small passenger-boat, a tearoom and holiday homes. The history of the use of small craft belongs to the often ephemeral world of leisure but sources like newspaper files, local websites and documents in the Canal & River Trust’s Waterways Archive, shed further light on what remains a fragmentary history.Background to Happy Valley Research from the Times online and British Newspaper Archive indicates the origins of the term ‘Happy Valley’. It seems to have derived from a pantomime play called Harlequin Rasselas; or The Happy Valley, first performed in 1815 (the Times, 10th February 1815), based on a 1759 story about Abyssinia by Dr Samuel Jo…