Thursday, 13 January 2011

MAIDEN'S TRIP: A Wartime Adventure on the Grand Union Canal

Title: MAIDEN'S TRIP: A Wartime Adventure on the Grand Union Canal

First published in 1948, the book is a classic memoir of three young women in the exceptional circumstances of Britain at war. Presented with the motorboat Venus and its butty boat, the Ariadne, the three girls embark on their maiden trip. In 1943 Emma Smith signed on with the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company under their wartime scheme of employing women to make use of boats lying idle. Emma set out with Nannette and Charity on a big adventure - three 18 year old girls, freed from a conventional middle class background, precipitated into a world of the boating fraternity. Never before had they seen women with plaited hair and gold earrings, men with choker scarves and darkly sunburnt faces, whole families existing for generation after generation on boats painted the brilliant colours of blue and scarlet, white and glossy black, living hard but undisturbed lives on the water. The girls learn how to handle a pair of 72ft long canal boats, how to carry a cargo of steel north from London to Birmingham, and on the return journey south, coal from Coventry, how to navigate hazardous locks in the apparently unceasing rain, how to splice ropes, bail out bilge water, keep the engine ticking over and steer through tunnels. They live off kedgeree and fried bread and jam, adopt a kitten, lose their bicycles, laugh and quarrel and progressively get dirtier as the weeks go by. Pure nostalgic delight. 228pp with one publicity photograph of the girls at the end.
Published Price: £14.99

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