Camberley & District Probus Club

Horse Drawn Canal Boat Trip, June 2019

Our outing with the canal boat was really different   We started from an end-of-the road, very quiet backwater on the Kennet and Avon Canal, known as Kintbury .  The silence was deafening.–– The canal and towpath had very little traffic and there were not even any cattle or sheep in the field – only the Probians chatting spoiled the illusion.

We went back to what canal life was like in a previous century – a real education.  Nowadays, there is the engine, someone on the rudder and maybe one other crew.  But for the horse-drawn boat of yesterday – no engine noise, but forward movement by courtesy of the horse, was controlled by the HORSEMAN.  But Drummer2, our horse, had a habit of stopping to chew at his favourite bush, so the HORSEMAN had to keep Drummer moving– because if the horse stopped, the inertia of the boat meant it would overtake the horse. Then TOWROPE MAN’s job was to lift the towrope up and over, as we came to any boats moored at the Canal bank. Then the seamen amongst you will know that if a boat is pulled by a towrope, the laws of mechanics means that it would just scrape along the bank –so TILLER MAN’s role was to steer the boat to the centre of the Canal. Then there was the CAPTAIN, who served the generous wine (by courtesy of the Club) by walking along the roof, because Probians filled the inside of the boat. And madam COOK served the generous Ploughmans lunch. So a high ratio of Crew to Passengers –reminder that commercial transport was very manpower intensive in the old days.

Very relaxing – time to enjoy the wine and food, to  talk,  and to admire the beautiful scenery, to enjoy the wine, even time to jump off the boat, and walk uncertainly  alongside to the next lock and jump back on.  The sun hardly showed,  but the rain (almost) kept off.   An excellent enjoyable and relaxing day. Well organised by John Clark.  

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