The Book that Saved Canals from Oblivion

Did a single work of art save our canals from being filled in? That is the claim being made about LTC Rolt’s ‘Narrow Boat’ which was first published 70 years ago with the aim of spreading word about the beauty and potential of the rapidly dying canals.

Tom Rolt’s ‘Narrow Boat’ is credited with sparking one of Britain’s greatest conservation movements, rescuing the nation’s canals from destruction. To celebrate the remarkable book’s platinum anniversary it’s being re-issued by the Canal and River Trust at the Hay Literary Festival on May 28th with the additions of a new foreword by C&RT’s ‘poet laureate’ Jo Bell and a new cover taken from a specially commissioned linocut print by waterways artist Eric Gaskell.

In her introduction Jo Bell writes ‘Its first publication, seventy years ago this year, focused the attention of a post-war generation on the waterways. These men and women rolled up their sleeves and began the work – political and physical – of restoring, maintaining and publicising the network of once-working water.  Now in the custody of the Canal & River Trust, the inland waterways are transformed from their declining and sleepy status of 1944.’

Narrow Boat print by Eric GaskellA few of Eric Gaskell’s original 180mm by 240mm linocut prints are available from a strictly limited edition of 25 at a price of £100. The Prints were created using the block method where several blocks of lino are cut and overprinted to give the beautiful. Because of the nature of this type of printing no two prints can really be said to be exactly the same.

The image is also available as a limited edition ‘Glicee’ print. Printed using archive quality inks and paper, individually numbered, dated and signed by Eric Gaskell, with a certificate of authenticity. Each print costs £40 with £5 from each sale going to the Canal and River Trust.

There are more details and the prints can be bought online while stocks last at Eric’s CanalPrints website.

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

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