Monday, 23 April 2012
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')