The Bridge and the Swan by Ian H Bruce (2013) As I cruise the canals their needs are apparent Locks leaking, gates creaking, towpaths overgrown Hopes sink like an anchor, we've been scuppered by bankers It'll take more than they'll raise from some texts on the phone Chorus : I won't send a text to raise money for orchards A house for a dormouse, holes for the voles Canals that hold water are all that I'm wanting The birds and the bees will find their own homes The canals built by man for industrial transport A new dawn, barges horse drawn distribution achieved No more rutted cart tracks, goods slung on horses' backs As throughout the country waterways weaved Iron horses then galloped over all of the country Steam and smoke, coal and coke, a railway stampede When navvies laid rail lines, canal haulage soon declined The boatie's life vanished, beaten by speed The canals were once saved by amateur enthusiasts Boating pleasure, enjoying leisure, a new fashionable creed 'Til professionals' conceit, their God now the spreadsheet Let the system decline through incompetence and greed We're now asked to trust that the system's in safe hands Workers disappear, more volunteers, a government con Boaters, their views ignored, by 'friend-seeking' charity board Reflect on the curse of the bridge and the swan Repeat verse 1 Major disruptions to the canal system seem to have been increasing during 2013 and evidence of future problems is plain to see. The new body entrusted with keeping the system in good order, the Canal and River Trust, got off to a poor start when they introduced schemes where members of the public could text a number and donate £3 towards trees to be planted, bird boxes to be installed and habitats to be created for voles. Voles which may well be undermining canal banks and causing some of the failures. I doubt the money raised paid for the signage or the refreshments at the executive meeting where the scheme was dreamt up. These factors combined to lead to the chorus of this song and the verses followed.” - Ian H Bruce (written in 2013) As I update this website in 2021 the canal network is in a dreadful state with the number of major repairs underway at the start of the boating season at the highest level for many years. Though this protest song’s reference to the ‘bridge and the swan’ is no longer relevant the criticism of those in charge of our canals certainly is. I think we now need a song about the ‘sinking tyre’. Recorded on :
When the Canal & River Trust took over responsibility for the canal system from British Waterways in 2013 their new logo featuring the ‘bridge and the swan’ was a modification of the BW logo which had been in use on signage for many years. Five years later the Canal & River Trust decided to ‘reposition their brand’ as a ‘waterways and well being charity’. After six to nine months work a new logo was developed at a cost of £60,000.
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