The journey of a lifetime across England by canal
Canals have acquired a certain romance. Once, they were at the heart of industrial life. Today they tend to be associated with colourful boats taking trippers on leisurely journeys.
I have been on only one such journey, from Bingley on the Leeds- Liverpool Canal. I still have pleasant memories of the passing scene.
As we made our unhurried way, people with dogs strolled on the towpath. A landmark was the industrial village of Saltaire.
We passed through Five Locks Rise, one of the "Seven Wonders Of the Waterways", the only grade one-listed lock flight in the country.
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In 1958, a group of 11 Sea Scouts and three officers from Lytham encountered the same engineering wonder when they made a seven-day boat trip across England to Hull on the Training Ship Queenborough.
This journey of over half a century ago is recalled in a new book, From Lancashire To Yorkshire By Canal, by Andrew Hemmings and David Swidenbank.
Fortunately, there was a photographer on board who recorded what has now become part of our history, "the dying throes of commercial traffic on Britain's canals".
They saw coal and general-purpose barges on a waterways network that looked dangerously tired, neglected and almost finished.
There were occasional glimpses of pleasure boats but no indication that such craft and their owners were to be the salvation and resurrection of such waterways.
The authors' return to the places passed 50 years ago shows how much has changed and the scale of regeneration.
On the sixth day, the Sea Scouts had arrived in Goole, the port in green fields created in 1828, a serious rival to Hull.
There were marked changes between the visits of 1958 and 2011.
A visit to The Yorkshire Waterways Museum told the story of the canals and a boat trip provided an opportunity to view the extensive docks from the water.
At Goole, the 1958 adventures were met by members of the Hull Sea Cadets Corps, who escorted them across the tricky waters of the Humber to the city.
The AA Book's section on Hull at that time drew attention to Wilberforce House, the bomb damage inflicted during the war and the ferry connecting it with New Holland.
Research indicates that the Queenborough was probably berthed in Victoria Dock. Their arrival was marked by the traditional formalities of naval life, including inspections and parades, all photographed in what are now fascinating period pieces. One photograph shows the street scene in Anlaby Road with the Continental Palace in the middle distance.
The 1958 contingent visited the headquarters of the Hull Sea Cadets at 8 West Parade, about which historian Paul Gibson has provided a fund of information.
In its heyday, West Parade was a very smart address where many Hull merchants and dignitaries lived. No 8 was Sir Alfred Gelder's home, still a grand building in 1958. Later, the site was compulsorily purchased for the construction of Hull Royal Infirmary and a number of related buildings.
On Sunday, July 27, 1958, the Queenborough made a prompt, unescorted start from Hull, catching the tide to sail up the Humber and River Ouse to Goole.
For them, it was the journey of a lifetime; for us, a journey through our past.
From Lancashire To Yorkshire By Canal, by Andrew Hemmings and David Swidenbank, is published by Amberley and costs £14.99.