That's how it came about

Published: Tuesday, 08 December 2020

SEARCHING back through your 'columns' I believe I have discovered the answer to that long running controversy of towpath visitors, writes James Henry.

It was in one of Ralph Freeman's informative 'Ancient Boater' articles concerning spreadsheets and the obvious habit of adding noughts to impress.

Pure bunkum

I am sure boaters using the waterways and having first-hand knowledge of the actual users of the towpaths know that the figure of 470,000,000 visitors a year is pure bunkum, and a fine example of adding noughts to impress.  If I may use a sentence from Ralph Freeman's article:

So what is presented at the meeting is a spreadsheet, with many rows of figures, usually ending in many zero's, with a total at the bottom. It is almost certain some of those numbers will be added to the boss's spreadsheet, and so it goes on. At the end someone announces it will cost £150,000,000 next year to maintain the canals next year and they have the figures to prove it!

Without seeing a soul

And there you have it.  It was I believe Victor who calculated how many visitors this was per mile per day over the system and it was in many hundreds.  Yet we have all boated for miles without seeing a soul, especially in days like these of the past week, in a wet, cold November!

So now it is just a matter of chopping off a few noughts and a sensible figure will be revealed!