Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watching Flower of Gloster 2

It's time to get the Flower of Gloster to London and her buyer - we left her at Market Drayton in Shropshire.

On the journey to Wolverhampton 10-year-old Mike gets lost, but no one seems to concerned. More worrying is the wrong turn they take down a derelict canal, wasting valuable time.

They arrive at Gas Street Basin, then part of a working canal rather than the tourist destination it is today.

Mike wanders off again and is this time picked up by the authorities and taken to a hostel for the children of families who on the working boats. There he is made to have a bath - probably no bad thing.

Such an establishment did exist in Birmingham. At one time the Fabians were obsessed with getting the children of canal families into institutions.

A page about the Canal Boat Hostel, Wood End Lane, Erdington, says it is "thought to have closed in the 1960s when commercial haulage by canal boats ceased".

Flower of Gloster does seem to have caught the very end of this way of life. A woman gives birth on board a working narrow boat and a canal man's coffin passes on another.

We also see Raymond, a boat I remember seeing carrying coal from the Ashby Canal in Leicestershire down to London into the early 1970s.

And so they reach London, defeating an underhand attempt by Talfryn Thomas to steal their customer at the last minute.

The last episode ends with a triumphal progress down the Thames. The Pool of London still has the cranes that dipped their jibs to honour Churchill's coffin and the Monument was, if only for a few more weeks, one of the most prominent buildings in the City.

Flower of Gloster feels like a fragment of my own childhood - and you can buy it from Network Distributing.

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