... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Going the distance

Yesterday saw the bi-annual fun and frolics of an HNBC 'social' (I am not convinced that 'social' is a noun, but we will take it as an implicit abbreviation of 'social event'. Being on the committee, Both Jim (who is not Events and Awards Officer) and I were meant to be there at ten. We were a bit late however, as, for all its virtues, the free Navfree satnav app is a bit optimistic about journey times. We were also somewhat perplexed by the route it had chosen, until I investigated and discovered that it was still set to avoid motorways, and had been ever since we had the oil leak in the previous Volvo.

The afternoon's entertainment this year was provided by Tony Gregory, who had put together a really good show of photos from the 1940s and 50s, mainly of the BCN and the Wolverhampton locks. I finally learnt why lock twenty is the only one to have a single top gate - it was added twelve years after the original twenty locks were built, to save water, and the standard for the BCN had changed in the meantime. The secong half of the presentation included some compilations of cine film put together by Keith Christie. This was less successful as much of the film had not transferred very well to the digital medium, and it was largely reliant on Tony Gregory reading out Keith Christie's written commentary.

There was an excellent bonus though. Tony had brought along a number of items he had salvaged many years ago which were looking for good homes, and for a small donation to charity, they found them. The items in question are, I understood at the time (but see below), 1966 reprints* of 1886 Grand Junction distance tables. I only have a terribel iPad photo, but you can see they take the form of the tables you get in motoring atlases, whereby you can read off the distance from any one place to another. There are also smaller tables for each arm.

*Update - firstly to remove the awful iPad spelling, but more importantly to add what Tony Gregory has subsequently sent in an email: the tables were salvaged in 1966 - so could be any age. Maybe the original 1886 printing, even? Tony sent an account to be printed in the HNBC newsletter, so I am sure it will be all right to reproduce the relevant bit here:
'These had been in a wardrobe at the home of the late George & Olive Andrews since they collected them from Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd., when their canal carrying operations ceased in 1966.'


  1. I have here a distance table not unlike that in your picture, but certainly quite a bit different too. Mine is headed "Grand Junction Canal - Distance Table - 1895".
    The layout differs, particularly the bit showing the branches.
    I'd have this one as being a reproduction sold in (probably) the 1970s, and it may have originated from somewhere like the Stoke Bruerne Museum, I'm really not sure.
    What you have is different, so I guess its origins are likely to be too.
    As an aside we are often told that things like calling "Three Locks", "Soulbury Three Locks" is a modern invention, and they were always known in the distant past as "Stoke Hammond Three Locks". Not so, if this is an accurate reproduction of something from 1895, as "Soulbury Three Locks" is what it says.
    Also interested that what is now known as Startopsend shows here as Stanhopesend.

  2. The ruddy test to prove you are not a bloody robot is getting harder! I wonder how many people give up, and let their comments go unpublished. Must have taken 5 attempts to just decypher what they actually wanted!

  3. Sorry about that Alan - I've never found it too hard when commenting on other people's blogs, and I feel it's got to be better than moderating everything to keep out the spam. I believe it was Halfie who reported that you don't have to get it exactly right for it to be accepted.

    Did you know also that every time you do one of those you are helping to digitise old texts that can't be read by text recognition software.

  4. I agree I've not struggled with it in the past, (the stuff to enter when validating you are not a robot, that is...).
    Recently they seemed to have changed it, and for at least one of the two things they want you to reproduce, it is getting progressively harder, (and I don't think it's just my eyesight deteriorating!).
    You didn't used to have to seem to match exactly, but it seems to be getting far pickier. Now lets see how many attempts this time.....