The days of Dr. Fletcher

Published: Thursday, 16 July 2020

I WELL remember the days of Dr. Fletcher, and congratulate Ralph on his article, writes James Henry.

Those indeed were the days, for when the season ended the workers turned out in their droves to maintain the canals.

Work progressed quickly

It meant closing canals, but in those days the organisation had not joined the health and safety brigade, and work progressed quickly and without interference, as they were people who knew canals and not the mamby pamby contractors of today who must have safety steps and rails before they dare go down into a lock.

So work was quickly done and the waterway open and it was done properly by people who knew what they were doing.  There was no need for so many wasted days of inspection, decision and preparation before a finger could even be lifted.

So the money was well spent on the actual maintenance and not on the bureaucracy. 

Everything in tip-top condition

Come the start of the new season everything was in tip-top condition, all damaged gates had been replaced, leaking cills too, and those swing bridges were all in good working order.  This was achieved as everything was inspected and if anything wanted attention it got it.

Then we boaters could spend an happy season cruising the waterways with no fear of a hold up.

What a difference now

What a difference now.  Stoppage after stoppage, I remember even seven in one week!  The whole system falling apart.  Look at the Leeds & Liverpool broken cill that gave way last Friday, and I just see that it will have taken a week to repair.  I remember your mention of the Coventry Canal cill failure, mended in one day, under Dr. Fletcher's regime of course.

What a mess we are in.  But what so annoys is that the magazines and other internet publications still paint such a rosy picture, for you never read about all the many failures, what hypocrites. Thank God for narrowboatworld.

[Steady, James—Editor.]