Saturday, 2 November 2013

Canals, and the inevitable "barge", in The Times newspaper

The Weekend section of today's Times contains a four page pullout featuring 30 "great spots on the canals".

It's heralded with an almost full page photo of a sunny summer's day at Caen Hill locks.

Unfortunately, under the narrowboat sporting an impressive floral display (as well as a drying vest), are the words "Jump on a barge, walk on the towpaths plus the best waterside pubs."

This is careless. The Times should know better. But what if the paper is merely reflecting the fact that most people call narrowboats barges? Should not we boaters admit defeat and accept that "barge" is an alternative to "narrowboat"? Well, no, I don't think so. There is a distinction - barges are today considered to be commercial boats with a beam greater than seven feet, whereas the beam of narrowboats never exceeds about seven feet - and the waterways would be poorer without it.

All groups of like-minded people accumulate and defend their own technical language, using it sometimes as a litmus paper to tell who's "in" and who's "out". It wouldn't take long for a newspaper man or woman to suss that I know little about their industry, for example. Besides, what better way is there of detecting a boating novice than their reference to "barge" when they mean "narrowboat"?

And what are the 30 top spots on the canals, according to The Times?

  • Gloucester Waterways Museum
  • Fradley Junction
  • Foxton Locks
  • Bingley Five Rise Locks
  • Little Venice
  • Tring Reservoirs
  • National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port
  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • Brecon Basin
  • Albert Dock, Liverpool
  • Stourport Basin
  • Hatton Locks
  • Dudley Tunnel
  • Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum
  • Standedge Tunnel
  • Castle Wharf, Nottingham
  • Newark
  • Three Mills and Olympic Park
  • Anderton Boat Lift
  • Caen Hill Locks
  • Pocklington Canal
  • Sprotborough
  • Saltaire
  • Camden Lock
  • Lincoln
  • The Falkirk Wheel
  • Lune Aqueduct
  • Sowerby Bridge
  • Wigan Pier
  • Banbury

I wonder how they came up with that list. I expect they asked CRT.

So what would your top waterways places be? I'm not asking for 30: three will do. I'll kick off with mine:

Bugsworth Basin; Farmer's Bridge Locks; Standedge Tunnel.

(Actually, that was really difficult. I love all canals!)


Graham and Jill Findlay said...

Wolverhampton 21
The Bratch
The Anchor, High Offley.

Maffi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maffi said...

Thrupp (of course)

Sarah said...

While Newark is perhaps my absolute favourite place on the waterways, it isn't on a canal!

Ian and Karen said...

We have been to all the 'Times' favourite and like you just love anywhere on the canals (and rivers).
But three?

Flingel said...

Bugsworth Basin
Caen Hill Locks