Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ice skating on the K&A Canal - historic picture

I came across this picture of a lone skater on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the pound below Prison Bridge on the Devizes Flight in a box of scrap pictures today.  I remember the story very well ... well up to a point.  The guy skating round the pound was, I am pretty sure, a Dutchman — and a speed skating enthusiast. 
  
Picture by Bob Naylor©

He had been hurtling round the pound practicing for a couple of days before I took pictures of him. The pictures were used in a few newspapers and they must have been brought to the attention of someone at British Waterways who thought it unsafe and must be stopped.  

To stop people going on to the ice BW hired a crane from Devizes Cranes to break up the ice with a huge weight. Unfortunately as the crane was smashing the ice it slid down the bank and into the water - and the driver had to leap to the bank to avoid a soaking in the icy water.  The crane lay in the water on its side for some time until it was safe enough to retrieve it. (I don't have any prints of that - but I am still looking).

Because the picture is out of the scrap box it is not date stamped and has no caption — but there are a few clues that might help a knowledgeable person to identify the approximate date:
It was before the Caen Hill flight was re-opened in 1990 by the Queen.
There are no bottom gates on the locks. 
The top gates have the experimental 'cranked' balance beams — all of those had to be removed to be replaced with the lock gates with straight balance beams that are still in use.  

It was after  1979 — because I had been working in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire before then — where we had real snow in the Peak District. 

Any information to: news@kacanaltimes.co.uk

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