BCN Bi-Centenary 1969

 You may wonder why, after months of absence from the canal "blog-sphere" I am writing about an event over 50 years ago. 

Well firstly I will try and explain my absence. After Edward Winter's untimely passing I felt I just couldn't get back to reporting on my mixture of canal and river journeys, old waterway's books and memorabilia. My heart just wasn't in it and to some extent I always though of Edward as being "My Reader" - I would write with him in mind. 

Also my world of science, I am an editor of an international engineering science journal, just got busier and busier with researchers busy writing manuscripts during the Covid restrictions. I therefore set aside Albert's Blog "until the spirit moved me".

Well a couple of weeks ago my next door neighbour who knows my passion for canals donated some books and pamphlets that had been his fathers - mostly about the Llangollen Canal. He was de-cluttering prior decoration. As part of the handy package I obtained came a wonderful pamphlet for the 1969 IWA National Rally that was held on the Birmingham Canal Navigations to mark their 200th anniversary. The 53-page pamphlet is fascinating and the copy pristine. It has great articles that would not be out of place in Narrow Boat. In particular, the article on BCN history by J.L. Langford is really good. 

But why did that particularly move me to post about this now. Well the next image is the big clue!

   Yes, HRH Prince Philip who was patron of so many organisations was also Patron to the 1969 Rally of Boats in Birmingham. His interests in boats and sailing was well-known but I hadn't realised that he had a connection with the canals. At this time "Mr Birmingham" - Frank Price was Chairman of British Waterways and I just wonder if he was the one who persuaded the Duke of Edinburgh to oblige. The IWA were always trying to be well connected and I am sure they were pleased with the patronage. I can just imagine Peter Scott or John Betjeman asking him. However, I can't find a record of Philip actually visiting the rally.  It was also a critical time for canals and the birth of leisure boating. Encouraging public interest in what were seen by some as dirty and dangerous waterways was vital for their survival. 

As always with these booklets from bygone ages the adverts are revealing.

Braunston Marina full of GRP Cruisers

Early Steel narrowboats - note the prices

We will be out boating soon and Albert has had an updated galley. I will have to get back to more regular posting and perhaps even finish reporting on last year's cruising.