Tuesday, November 01, 2022

The Bargee: The last days of commercial narrow boat traffic on the Grand Union Canal

The Bargee - described by one writer as one of the three great canal movies - is one the Talking Pictures TV Encore site at the moment.

Written by Galton and Simpson, it stars Harry H. Corbett as a canal boat skipper with a girl at every mooring and his mate is Ronnie Barker. Beyond that, Eric Sykes is miscast (couldn't they get Nicholas Parsons?) and Hugh Griffith is as scary as ever. Miriam Karlin is scary too when crossed.

The real stars here are the canalside locations. In particular, the swing bridge at Winkwell, by the Three Horseshoes pub, was the goal of family walks when I was a little boy living on Boxted Road in Hemel Hempstead.

Take away those locations, and its just another not particularly funny British film comedy. But I'm glad I've seen it.

The Bargee was released in 1964 and the last working boats on the Grand Union tied up for good in 1970.

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