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Weekend at war

Weekend at war

Tim Coghlan takes a lighter look at a remarkable re-enactment in which he survived an air raid, met the idle women, ate spam-a-lot, and kept smiling through…

Having prepared myself for something completely different, it still came as a surprise when it happened. I had arrived a little early as I had to be back to the marina-day-job by late morning and I wanted to see as much as I could. The offi cial car park at the top of the hill by Stoke Breurne’s church was almost empty and there was no one to collect my money for the advertised £10 car park charge to gain admission...

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War on the grand union

War on the grand union

Tim Coghlan takes a lighter look at this remarkable, now possibly annual reenactment, in which he survived an air raid, met Idle Women, ate Spam-a-lot and kept smiling through…

Last year’s first Village at War weekend at Stoke Bruerne set the organizers, the Friends of the Waterways Museum, a hard act to follow. There was all the initial novelty, which as a one off gets the punters in, but would they come again? And there was also that moment of a very special occasion with the unveiling of the plaque outside the museum to the ‘Idle Women’ - who had worked as boatmen during the war...

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"Apart from that, how did you enjoy the play?"

"Apart from that, how did you enjoy the play?"

Tim Coghlan recently met George Smith, the now 96-yearold former working boatman and briefly the first husband of Sonia Rolt.

 George was in great shape, living on his own in his little bungalow near the Coventry Canal. He was still the legendary canal charmer and raconteur, with a truly astonishing memory. He related this tale of his first visit to a London theatre. And also some other remarkable adventures to be published later in Canals Rivers + Boats...

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Tom Rolt - narrow boat man

Tom Rolt - narrow boat man

By Tim Coghlan

At the invitation of Tom Rolt’s widow Sonia, Tim Coghlan joined actor and canal and train enthusiast Timothy West at the recent Cheltenham Literary Festival to discuss what was billed as ‘a celebration of Tom Rolt’s extraordinary life and remarkable achievements – engineer, prolific author and the man whose elegiac work Narrow Boat sparked the campaign to save Britain’s inland waterways…’ The event – a sell out with an audience of 240 - was the very first of the Festival...

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The OwnerShips Ice Boat Show - with added Blue Shoots!

The OwnerShips Ice Boat Show - with added Blue Shoots!

Tim Coghlan tells the story of this year’s remarkable event – which, like so many previous OwnerShips Boat Shows, seems to survive all known winter perils

For the last three years in a row, it looked like Lady Luck had gone on holiday to somewhere warmer, leaving the OwnerShips Boat Show to face the full fury of the English winter. This was after 15 years of holding the event at Braunston Marina, in a seemingly unstoppable succession mild ones...

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Nene better!

Nene better!

After twenty-three years of trying to get to the IWA Northampton Spring Rally - always frustrated by the day-job - Tim Coghlan finally got there this year. But only because he had been invited to open it! Here he takes a lighter look at his first impressions of this very enjoyable cameo canal-festival

There is a saying - perhaps made more appropriate in view of the Royal Wedding on the day preceding my opening of the three day IWA Northampton Rally – Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride! In my now rapidly approaching 23 years of running Braunston Marina, I have been involved in organizing nine Braunston Boat Shows and now the ninth Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally.
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The Canal Adonis The Idle Woman

The Canal Adonis The Idle Woman

Part 1: The water road to love

Tim Coghlan looks back on the life of the former working boatman George Smith, who died recently aged 97. He is best remembered for his short post-war marriage to the wartime Idle Woman Sonia South, which, in 1946, brought the pair of them to the forefront of the IWA’s campaign to save the canals, as the glamorous face of the working boatmen. Sonia dramatically left him in 1951 for the canal author and IWA co-founding member Tom Rolt.
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Working boats galore!

Working boats galore!

A look back at the June 2010 Braunston Historic Narrow boat Rally which broke all records…again!

We seem to have come a long way since our first Rally in 2003, when we were very pleased and indeed relieved to welcome 19 former working boats, mostly from the Fellows Morton & Clayton (FMC) fleet, to celebrate the re-restoration of the last surviving steam narrow boat President...

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A Friend of President

A Friend of President

Part 4 - In steam narrow boat President’s centenary year, Tim Coghlan continues his personal memories – concluding his voyage in August, 1998, when he joined fellow Friends of President for a run down Britain’s last-ditch attempt at canal building

We soon arrived at Mode Wheel Locks, the first proper Manchester Ship Canal locks which historically also controlled the whole of the water for the Manchester Docks. On the Manchester Ship Canal itself, all locks are plural, as they are all double locks – one for large and the other for smaller vessels...

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A Friend of President

A Friend of President

Part 3 - In steam narrow boat President’s centenary year, Tim Coghlan continues his personal memories - now returning to August, 1998, when he joined fellow Friends of President for a voyage down

I have mixed views on Manchester. Brazen, brutish, and bleak - I have visited it many times over the years on a theme of ‘where there’s mook there’s brass’, but never in search for its beauty. In one famous divorce case, the great Mr Justice Melford Stevens said contemptuously of the luckless husband across the court, “He chose to live in Manchester, a wholly incomprehensible choice for a free man to make.” - and there he rested his case for the man’s ill treatment of his doe-eyed client...

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