Monday, 23 April 2012

Horse boating


Yesterday's photo brought to life..... When the first sections of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal were opened in the early 1770s, the idea of using horses to tow boats (instead of men hauling them) was relatively new.  The canals were built with towing paths and so horse-drawn boats became a common sight. The last boat horse on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal retired in the 1960s. 

It was a true delight to see this rare visit of the horse-drawn narrowboat 'Elland' to Saltaire, as part of the World Heritage celebrations.  The horse, called Bilbo Baggins, was harnessed up in the centre of Saltaire and pulled the boat right up to and through Hirst Wood Lock, where the boat had room to turn round before returning to the village.  It moved faster than you might think.  I had a bit of a job keeping up with it and trying to take photos - was thrilled with this one, as there were lots of people on the towpath also trying to take photos!

'Elland' is travelling along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal throughout April to July - the first such trip for over 60 years! So there are other opportunities to see it, including at the Skipton Waterways Festival May 4-7... see the Horseboating Society website for details.

I am told that most of the boatmen on this canal did not live permanently on board their boats.  They usually had their own houses with stabling for the horses.  In fact the cottages at Jane Hills (which I've shown on my blog here) were occupied by boating families for many years and the horses were grazed right where the orthodontics factory now is (see Saturday's post)!

(I have posted a full set of photos on my other blog: 'Seeking the Quiet Eye')

14 comments:

  1. I've walked on canal towpaths pretty frequently over the years but I've never been lucky enough to witness anything like this. Fantastic!

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  2. Impressive! the yesterday's picture is now alive!The horse is wonderful!

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  3. You can be rightly proud of this photo; not a hint of there being such a crowd of other spectators and photographers around!

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  4. This is something I would LOVE to do. Hiking along the tow paths also would be high on my list. I went on the Norfolk Broads and the Thames when I was quite young. This would be out of this world in comparison - that is if it isn't too touristy. (Yes, I know, I would be one of them, but once upon a time there weren't so many). Great photo. You work hard for your shots.

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  5. I just love heavy horses, reminds me of when we lived on a farm in the 50s and I was a young kid going out on cart pulled by these lovely animals.

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  6. You did well to capture the image without anyone else in it; I tried but ended up having to crop out the onlookers.

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  7. Wonderful shot. I like the harness, too. Would have liked to have been there.

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  8. Jenny, this is a fantastic photo. I'm not pinning your photos, but if I were, this would be on the list. It is definitely one of my favorites!

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  9. It is a wonderful photo of a great history. I have seen this area on tv shows both pbs and in movies.

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  10. Well done Jenny. It's nice to see the narrow boats at work the way it used to be done.

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  11. Congratulations on your 1770 photo! I love it!

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  12. I didn't catch on just be looking at the photo that the horse was pulling the boat! ha. Then, of course, I read it. It's a great photo! Amazing.

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  13. The photograph is just wonderful! Great post Jenny.

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  14. I so "get" that thrill of getting a postcard perfect photo without the crowds. :-)

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