Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'Pearl Barley'

I am fascinated by canal boats, especially the colourful narrowboats with traditional paintings.  In the photo above, the horse-drawn boat 'Elland' is on the left and the narrowboat on the right is a beautiful boat called 'Pearl Barley', which they were using to power 'Elland' when it wasn't being towed by the horse.  This is also a traditional 'under the cloths' boat, similar to 'Elland', that would have been used to transport goods. These narrowboats were not, I think, built for the Leeds-Liverpool Canal (most of the traditional boats here were wider barges - see old picture on my blog on Sunday)) but they nevertheless give a good flavour of the days when canals were serious working waterways.

(Later note:  I am reliably informed that Pearl Barley is actually relatively new, built in the 1990s... Nevertheless it (she?) is beautiful and, I think, built with great attention to the traditional detail).

I didn't get chance to talk to the boatman but a Google search suggests that he is the owner, Duncan Davis, who sounds a colourful character himself.... his family run The Black Bull Inn in Frosterley, in County Durham (website worth a look!)  He is described as 'a dyed-in-the-wool Geordie (ie: native of Tyneside in NE England), folksinger, church bell-ringer and ex top London photographer'.  Wish I'd had a chat now!


  1. Boy, you crammed a lot into one post! Thank you for the link to the Black Bull. I really want to go there, even if it means having to go through the airport hassle. The decorations on the Pearl Barley (is that a pun?) recall a gypsy caravan. And the canalside view brings to mind spots in Appalachia. Wonderful post! Jim

    1. I'll gladly come with you to The Black Bull - doesn't it look terrific?

  2. The pub looks brilliant and it has its own peal of bells!!!

    I too, find canal boats intriguing. Most of the Trent and Mersey (my local) is a 'narrow canal' (under 7' wide), so the boats we see on it are mainly of the narrow variety.

  3. How wonderful to see these. I would love to travel along the canal on one of these one day!

  4. Oh what a wonderful series about the barges. The photo with the horse makes me think of a scene from WIND IN THE WILLOWS.

  5. Hope we can meet at the Black Bull Inn one day. The traditional painting on the canal boats look quite "American country" style... or rather, the other way around. :-)


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