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National Waterways Archive in Ellesmere Port

It was very pleasant to return to the National Waterways archive at the National Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port. For those that have not had the chance to visit the museum it provides an opportunity for you to see the boats in their natural environment among some working locks. Volunteers play an important role and many were working on a plethora on different areas. As usual I took a quite a considerable amount of space on tables in the main reading room with all of the documents that I had pre-ordered. My picture was taken with the mountain of records, which, I was told, would be featuring on their blog. It would be prudent, then, to thank Linda Barley and all the other staff and volunteers for having me for the week.

Research material examined varied greatly. During the first day a number of old adverts from carrying companies caught my eye because of the quite wonderful designs on many of the covers. Thumbing through some thick manila envelopes I came across the mortgage certificates for a number of vessels that were working prominently on the river after the First World War.

It was then time to get stuck into some of enormous ledgers owned by a number of carrying companies that were operating on the River Trent. Along the side of the ledger one could see the highly detailed marbled patterns of red, blue and green that allowed one to see if any pages had been torn out. The thick maroon leather spines left their potent dye on the white covering upon my copy stand. It was apt in this case to compare the cover with their contents as they will provide enthusiasts of the River Trent valuable insights into the local businesses interacting with the larger companies that were overseeing the carriage of materials in the immediate post-war years.

Even this researcher has to comment that the trip north provided me with an opportunity to go back to Parkgates for fish and chips with a memorable view through the low-lying mist over the marshes to my native Wales. During  in a long overdue visit to Chester I noticed that the hot topic of conversation locally were the vastly improved visitor figures since the cathedral stopped charging for admission. Alas, as I arrived in the evening, I did not have the chance to look inside nor walk the famous city walls. The centre was busy enough for a Tuesday evening though.



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