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Curious about Canal boaters etc. at census times

Discussion in 'British Census' started by Ma-dotcom, May 9, 2017.

  1. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    I've just borrowed a book about girls taking the place of men as boaters on the Grand Union Canal [London to Birmingham] during the war -1940s while men were in the Army etc.
    Does anyone know of boaters or other canal workers having found them listed on any census? I have seen gate keepers & Lock keepers but no others.
    If they were still travelling until very late afternoon, it would be hard for enumerators to drop of their forms for people to fill out.

    Is this another way people have lost ancestors until they eventually gave up as boaters or simply left their families in the towns.?
    I have a fondness for the canal boats which are available to hire these days but will never get to do so.
    Couldn't resist the book.
     
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  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    One of the ladies that I have helped in my library drop-in sessions has boat people as ancestors. She has found the following website particularly helpful:
    Code:
    http://www.spellweaver-online.co.uk/90285/info.php?p=2
    Not just the census but a whole load of other information and links to other websites. :)
     
  3. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Oh Good one Jan, thank you. It looks very interesting [ not liking all of that red tho', but it mellows further on.]
    I shall have to read more of that before I get back to my book. "Maidens' Trip" by Emma Smith.

    p.s. Perhaps I'd better ration it out, just tripped down to the last words
    "Choose Boatmen in the News." there's more & more from earlier times. My time here may be scant :D
     
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  4. GrannyBarb

    GrannyBarb Custodian of the Family Accounts

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    Would that be a "boat load," Jan? :D
     
  5. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    :D
     
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  6. arthurk

    arthurk Well-Known Member

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    If I could just barge in... :rolleyes:

    The site Jan mentioned suggests that it was rather hit-and-miss whether boatmen got enumerated, and probably more miss than hit. I suspect some enumerators were up at dawn to try and catch them before they set off for the day - but with canal folk living a bit on the fringes (as the site suggests), I suspect some of them would have deliberately set out early so as not to be counted.

    Anyway, I thought I'd trawl through some bits of the 1891 census where I thought there might be canal folk, and came up with the following references:
    RG12/3869 fo 60 p23
    RG12/3869 fo113 p22, continues on next page as fo114 p23
    RG12/3876 fo61 p6

    Some enumeration districts specifically included "boats on the canal", though I think I only found them when they were in a separate listing at the end of a district. I was going through quickly, though, so if they were dotted around among everything else I could have missed them - if they were there at all.
     
  7. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Nicely done Arthur, glad it perked your interest. I've probably not found any before because my early folk were river men, not on the canals [except for one beer house on canal bank Croydon, which due to it's demise was excrutiatingly hard to find.] The particular book I'm reading also mentioned folk & extra early to get away but not for census evasion- more to beat others to the next job hand out or first to the tunnel or other part of the canal. It's a -so far -simple yarn, part true, with so far no dramas which is a good rest for my tangled brain[ just now.

    Your post sent me off on a 'Google' finding a few other interesting bits including this from:
    Code:
    https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/England_Occupations_Inland_Waterways_(National_Institute)#Life_and_Records_of_Canal_Boatmen
    Life and Records of Canal Boatmen
    Happily the 1851 census returns, and particularly the union indexes to them, assist in finding birthplaces of many who were born and lived during the heyday of the canals from 1760-1820.


    Plus an early post from Geoffers of Oxford in 2008- hope you are well Laddie.

    I'll have to find another daytime life or I'll never fit in all I now need to do. :D
     
  8. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Now finished the book, once or twice I thought it was going to get a bit dull, but they kept coming up with little bits to keep me reading. Astonished at the lack of care in disposing of rubbish which they said blew back into the water & quite often fouled up their steering gear. I would have thought a lidded bin for their throwaways would have been the go.
    I wonder if that still happens on the canals?

    Just picked up Ann Jacobs [ love her books] Moving on. not a good book to begin on Mother's day.:(
     
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  9. CaroleF

    CaroleF Well-Known Member

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    I doubt it very much. It's been a good few years since I've been narrow-boating on English canals (more's the pity) but even then there were 'sanitary stations' for the disposal of rubbish at fairly regular intervals.

    Back in the '70s I did cruise through the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN). It was a nightmare as they were a dumping ground for all sorts of fly-tippers but that was by people living on land, not those who lived/worked/cruised the canals. Never saw rubbish being dumped in other canals though.

    I was back in central Birmingham last year for a conference and was amazed to see how the BCN have been cleaned and smartened up in recent years.
     
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