Brightwork by Mike Clarke & Sam Yates

The painted decoration of working boats on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was one of the most colourful of Britain’s folk traditions. It was last used in the early 1960s, but despite being less than fifty years ago, no record of its origins and styles had been written until now. The two authors could not be more suitable — Mike Clarke has already written extensively about the canal’s history, while Sam Yates served his time as a boat builder at Hodson’s Boatyard at Whitebirk, near Blackburn, and undertook the decorative painting for several years before boat repair at the yard ceased in 1964.

Brightwork by Mike Clarke and Sam Yates
Brightwork by Mike Clarke and Sam Yates


An Example of Brightwork

The book looks at the variation between the traditions in Lancashire and Yorkshire. It then considers the tradition’s origins through boat, church and house decoration across Europe, comparing them to what was found on the canal. Finally, paint work at Hodsons boatyard is described in detail, along with details from other yards on the canal, with examples of the designs and colours used. After reading this book, it should be possible for the tradition to be better appreciated and, hopefully, used on the canal today.

This 88 page book is the only one on the subject, with numerous colour and b&w illustrations, size 250mm by 170mm landscape format. If you would like to order a copy, or just to receive more information, please send your details to the address below.

Milepost Research, 8 Green Bank, Barnoldswick, BB18 6HX.
Tel: 01282 850430;
More details at

Brightwork is also is available online from the Canal Junction Bookshop.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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