River Canal Rescue support for ‘Idle Women' re-creation

Published: Thursday, 06 April 2017

RIVER Canal Rescue is providing free breakdown and emergency assistance for the 'Idle Women' recreation along the 320 miles of waterway on the journey.

 Alarum Theatre Group's 15 weeks ‘The Idle Women; Recreating the Journey' tour follows the 320 miles route wartime trainees working on the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company (GUCC) boats would have taken 75 years ago.

 Historic Working boat

 Performers and crew will be on an historic 80 years old working boat together with a support narrowboat.

 Their journey starts on the 22nd April at the site of the GUCC depot at Bull's Bridge, West London, before heading into London on the Paddington Arm and to Limehouse via the Regents Canal (where boats would have been loaded with steel or timber). Then it's up to Birmingham via the Grand Union (where cargo would have been unloaded) and onto Coventry (where coal would be reloaded to bring back to London) before making their return journey to Camden on the 5th August.

 The wartime trainees took three weeks to do the journey, Alarum will take three months, performing ‘Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways' show 50 times in 40 venues. It tells the stories of the young women—later nicknamed ‘Idle Women'—who worked on 72ft narrowboats carrying 50 tons of cargo during World War II.


70ft working boat


A skipper and two crew will be on the 70ft working boat Tench which was built in 1936 and is a single motor craft constructed with wrought iron plate sides and a three inch elm bottom. Tench was one of the last two narrowboats built at the WJ Yarwood and Sons yard at Northwich, Cheshire. Its modern counterpart Morning Mist will house the production team and two performers, Heather Wastie and Kate Saffin (pictured) providing catering and lock-wheeling support.

 Alarum founder, Kate, approached River Canal Rescue for support as she believes there's a natural synergy between her tour and the work of RCR, explaining:

 "We want to show the contribution women in the past have made to the world of boating and in the present day, this is something RCR's managing director, Stephanie Horton, is doing too.

"RCR's offer of support gives us great peace of mind during the course of the journey. Both boats are well maintained, but we know if something does go wrong we can rely on prompt and expert help to get us on our way again. The wartime trainees weren't expected to be mechanics as well as boaters and there are many accounts of them having to call out engineers, so it would be authentic if we did have to call upon RCR, but we hope we won't need to."

 Supported many charities

 Of the offer to support the tour, Stephanie Horton comments:

 "RCR has supported many charities and projects over the years, and we are always happy to support new and interesting events to keep our canal heritage alive."

 To find out more about the tour or to join the crew, visit www.alarumtheatre.co.uk To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk.