Narrow Boats Originally a BBC lp recording issued in 1969 (REB 56 M). It was re-issued in 1975 on Argo ZTR 142. This record contains the recorded recollections of narrowboaters from the time when they were still carrying cargoes. A few songs and song snippets are interspersed and though they are not listed on the record sleeve they are believed to be those listed below. The album was arranged and produced by Desmond Briscoe with most of the music being sung and played by David Blagrove. The record was released to tie in with a BBC documentary 'The Narrow Boat Men'. David Blagrove has provided the following additonal information : Much of the original 'Narrow Boat' recording was done in our sitting room at home by the late Desmond Briscoe, who in those days was both head of BBC Radio Enterprises and the Chairman of the London & Home Counties Branch of the Inland Waterways Association. The Bolinder sounds came from NB 'William' (ex GUCCC Royalty Class) tied up outside our window. Hard Working Boater David Blagrove Working Boatman's Way David Blagrove Poor Old Horse Single Bolinder Keep Yer 'Ands Off Willow Wren Bride Boatman Cut Down in his Prime Sleeve Notes : This record is an attempt to capture, in words, sound and music, something of the fast disappearing world of the 'narrowboat' and the people whose lives were inextricably bound to the boats and the canals on which they worked and travelled. Many articles associated with the boats and the boatman's way of life are preserved in private collections or waterways museums. Many of their stories, traditions and way of life have been captured in print. The unique and colourful decoration of their boats have been photographed and copied. Yet it is a fact that as these remarkable men and women leave the canals their world will die with them. Many of the words of the narrow boat people have never been written down and the pronunciation varies as one travels. Almost impossible to write, they can however be captured precisely by the microphone and recording machine. The recent and increasing interest in the canals has come almost too late; already the owners of some of the voices on this record have gone, nevertheless it has been possible to use material from the BBC Sound Archives, together with more recent radio and television recordings, to weave this tapestry of sound. Nostalgia is inevitable. For those who have known the canal some little time, there are familiar references, sounds and voices - for those who have just discovered our inland waterways, this is an opportunity to make the acquaintance of the people whose whole life was involved with narrow boats. Birth, learning, courting, marriage, living, working, dying - and laughing, loading, locking, tying up - waiting; this was life on the narrow canals as described by the voices of boatmen, lock- keepers, lengthmen, tollkeepers and those who managed and looked after them. Charlie Atkins Leslie Moreton Harry Banister John Roberts George Bate Joe Skinner Alf Best Rose Skinner Harold Garner Ernie Thomas Joe Green Herbert Tooley Tom Hickson Jock Venables Jack James Sister Mary Wood Sam Lomas John Wooley Jock Moody and others, whose voices it has not been possible to identify. Some images from the reverse of the original lp cover are shown below: Around the same time as the long-playing record was released there was a programme on BBC2 in the Yesterday’s Witness series entitled ‘The Narrow Boat Men’ which featured many of boatmen captured on the recording. Yesterday's Witness: The Narrow Boat Men Mon 14th Apr 1969, 21:20 on BBC Two England A series which explores living memory "There's no doubt about it - they were fighters. They used to fight sometimes over a lock, sometimes over a bridge, and sometimes they'd have a fight just to see which was the best man." "...I was drunk for two days after that, and the only way I got sober was to drink seven pints. It was really a good Christmas that was!" The pains and pleasures of trading on Britain's narrow canals recalled in tonight's film by: Chocolate Charlie Atkins, Joe Green, Jack James, Sam Lomas, Leslie Morton, Jack Roberts, Joe and Rosie Skinner The editor of the Grand Union Canal Society was moved to write the following piece : In a thread on the Canal World Discussion Forum a member Alan W made the following observations about some of the boatmen on this record : Seeing this post again brought back memories "Chocolate" Charlie Atkins - worked with him for Anderton CCC in the 1960's Joe Green - boatman don't know his number of wives but he was reputed to have 21 children (This turns out to be correct - 7 with his first wife and 14 with his second.) Jack James - at the time I was boating he lived in cottages by Stoke Bruerne top lock - an excellent fender maker Sam Lomas - At the time I knew him he held court at the office at Autherley JCN Lionel[sic] Morton - At the time I knew him he was involved with Willow Wren CCC Jack? Roberts - only met him once he was horse boating on the "Shroppie"with a hostel type holiday boat Joe & Rose Skinner - #1 with Friendship always mule drawn, towed him to a couple of rallies when Bert Dunkley was unavailable I treasure the fact I was able to know them in the flesh, the gentle "prods" by Charlie A on how to do things was priceless to me More about Leslie Morton, David Blagrove and others can be read in an article from Towpath Talk newspaper, published 2 June 2015.
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