Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins, the boat-horse, made a welcome return to Saltaire during the World Heritage celebrations. He was not actually pulling a canal boat this time but he patiently stood in Roberts Park, to be harnessed and re-harnessed whilst his handler, Sue, explained all about horse boating. Traditionally, before the advent of engines, working boats on our canals were hauled by horses (the last horse retired in the 1960s). [See here for a photo of the horse pulling a narrowboat.] I learned all sorts of interesting snippets from Sue's talk - like why the rope between the horse and the boat is so long. A loaded boat sits well down in the water and exerts a strong sideways pull on the horse. A longer tow-rope produces less stress on the horse's shoulders and means they have to expend less energy to combat it. It is less damaging and less likely to pull them into the canal. They obviously did fall in sometimes. Sue explained that the Leeds-Liverpool Canal has many special ramps along it, to allow the horses to scramble out. [See also the website of the Horse Boating Society, with more pictures and information.]


  1. Sounds like an interesting talk. Horse looks very patient!

  2. He looks like a kind gentle creature!

  3. Reminds me of a song about the canals that folk singer, Noel Murphy, used to sing which contained the lines:
    "More steam, more steam!" the captain cried,
    "For we are sorely pressed!"
    But the engineer from the bank replied,
    "Sure, the old hoss is doing his best!"

  4. "Bilbo Baggins." What a great name! Your local festival is quite educational. If anyone asks me about how to tie a horse to a canal boat, I hope I can remember.

  5. That is such a great photo! It looks so typical and un-posed. Narow-boating is one thing that has missed my bucket list.


No WV here but I've enabled comment moderation on older posts so I don't miss any of your messages. I love reading them - thank you! And thanks for visiting my blog.