Reflections on the Canal

by Nick Dow

Nick Dow, Mally Dow, Jim Smith


Old House Music (Tape: OHMSP 604, 1994; CD: OHM, 2008)

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1
Alice White Alan Bell
2
Navvy Boy Trad arr Dow/Raven
3 Navvy on the Line Trad arr Dow/Boardman
4 Manchester Ship Canal Anon arr Dow
5 The Tommy Note Trad arr Dow
6 Cruise of the Calabar Trad arr Dow/Tawney

"Reflections on the Canal" apparently originated as a radio broadcast. It is a narrative tale of the canals and those who created them, with interspersed songs. It was a collaboration between Ron Baxter, Nick Dow and Mally Dow.

Nick and Mally at the time presented Radio Lancashire's "Lancashire Drift" folk programme. Thanks to Ross Campbell for passing on a lot of information about this project, including a script, and to Ron for his permission for it to be used for research/study purposes. The script is dated 19 June 1995 though the tape in my possession, apparently produced in collaboration with '"Canal and Riverboat" magazine, is dated 1994. "Reflections on the Canal" may have been produced to coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Opening of the Lancaster Canal. More information about this canal can found on the Lancaster Canal Trust website.

I take the liberty of repeating the 'sleeve notes' from the 'Reflections on the Canal' tape, written by Mally Dow, below; basically because I enjoyed reading them and so I hope others do too.

In this world of pressure and stress there is nowhere more restful to be than by the canal. Be it on board a gaily painted barge or on the towpath hand in hand with a loved one, with your dog, or simply alone. Troubles and worries fade into insignificance as you enter a world where cattle graze close by, ducks swim towards you and the canal murmurs and reflects the skies in its clear water. Everything slows down - even the barges are governed by a top speed limit of 4 miles an hour. Bliss! Unknown to you, you may walk over the grave of some navvy who was buried where he fell after a muck slide or some other fatal accident. These were numerous as the work was not only hard, it was extremely dangerous.
The role of the inland waterways has changed dramatically over the years and many have been left to get silted up and filled with old prams and bed-steads.
However, in many parts of the country restoration work has started and miles on canal have now been re-opened and are enjoying a new lease of life - thanks to the hard work of volunteers.
Maybe you'll do as I do when I walk along the canal bank - wonder at the achievement made all those years ago; and wish the navvies to rest in peace. They left a great testament behind.
However you travel by the canal may the wind be always at your back and the sun be always on your face.

A CD of this recording and an accompanying DVD are now available. Try eBay as your starting point.

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