Monday, December 02, 2019

Brighouse Basin Street Blues

During a regular scanning session of my old negatives, I came across this 35mm negative from the late 1960s - and I suspected that it had been taken in Brighouse Canal Basin. In order to confirm my suspicions, I took a walk there this morning and took a series of shots of the canal basin fifty years on. Everything has changed but the basic shape and structure of the canal and locks. So much of what has happened over the last fifty years can be seen in the changes between these two photographs: the gas works and mill chimneys are gone, the pleasure craft moorings and waterside bar restaurants have arrived.

Whilst walking around the moorings I was reminded of an incident that occurred there some 55 years ago. My brother had a canal barge that was moored in the canal basin, and my father and I were visiting him one evening. His was the only boat in the basin - the scene was just as bleak and empty as in that old negative of mine. All of a sudden we heard an almighty splash, and as we emerged from his boat we saw a car slowly sinking below the dark waters of the canal. Assuming there must have been a driver in the car, my brother was on the point of diving into the water to see if he could rescue anyone, when my father - a Yorkshireman of the old school - warned him that by doing so he would ruin a perfectly good pair of trousers! Our debate was curtailed by the sight of the driver emerging from below the surface of the water, and we managed to drag him out of the canal from the comparative safety of the towpath, without risking our health and our trousers. 

The water is much cleaner these days and there wasn't a sinking car nor a suicidal driver to be seen.


  1. The late 1960's is about right. When I sailed out of their in 1967 en-route for the French Canals, the factory shell on the left of the upper basin had not been erected and extensions had not been added the the lock gate balance beams - presumably making ready for the less hardy muscles of pleasure boaters.

    In those days I made a habit of foiling attempted canal suicides - three in all. While I was in the water struggling to save one potential victim from drowning, his wife appeared on the scene and asked if I could remove his watch as it's rather valuable!

  2. I love before/after your updated ones show. The story about the car taking a plunge is good news...then Roger mentioned the time a wife of a victim wanted the valuable watch. What a hoot!


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