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Waterfront, the Canal & River Trust


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Today on lockdownsceptics.org:

 

A little bit of woke gobbledegook for you… I am a friend of the Canal & River Trust: I live near a lovely canal in the North West and every day I enjoy a soothing walk along the towpath, enjoying the wildlife and the slowly gliding narrowboats and so on.

The Trust issues a monthly magazine called Waterfront, which used to be an unusually excellent publication – well-designed, beautifully illustrated, with great content, covering nature and history and the literature of the waterways and so on. The latest issue though is a slimmer, cheaper, less imaginative and far less interesting publication. The editorial justifies the change thus: “Waterfront is now easier to read and more economical to ensure more funds are available for vital heritage, wildlife and wellbeing work.” (Er, wellbeing?)

What a shame. But the truly irksome thing in the uglified new-look magazine is a double page spread that boldly proclaims: “It’s time for everyone’s story to be told.” Because, yes, even us canal fans need to be reminded that the canals are first and foremost tools of historical racism and exploitation.

The article begins: “When you walk along our canals, it’s not immediately clear that their story is inextricably entwined with the story of exploitation of people through slavery.”

Not immediately clear? No, it’s not – but please tell us more!

“In spring of this year, the Canal & River Trust worked with honarary research fellow, Dr Jodie Matthews, to start mapping those historical links. Her literature review drew together the available research whhich outlined that money from the transatlantic slave trade was invested in building canals. And that cargo produced by enslaved people, like sugar, cotton and tobacco was carried on our canal network.”

Hmm. Most people with the slightest awareness of history will already have been broadly aware of these facts. They’ve hardly been kept quiet all these years. But in the interests of wokeness, let’s indulge in some tedious virtue signalling, shall we?

The text then goes on to outline ways in which the profits of slavery were invested in canals, and name checks wealthy slave-owners who had shares in companies that built the canals. (In the interests of fairness, it is acknowledged that Josiah Wedgwood, who invested in the Trent and Mersey Canal, was actually an abolitionist. Phew!)

The article then points out that “canals transported goods produced by enslaved people, including indigo, tobacco, rice, cotton and sugar”. Liverpool and Manchester are singled out as being particularly guilty. The article concludes piously: “To date, the history of the canals has generally been told from only one perspective. History can often be selective. Jodie’s review found links exists, but more specific research needs to be done to understand its true extent and tell the full story of those marginalised by history.”

Which reads like the sign-off to a second-rate A-Level essay. C minus, try harder. Actually, please don’t bother.

And of course, the article is accompanied by a photograph of the removal of the statue of Robert Milligan “whose wealth built the West India Docks”. Milligan’s ejection, we’re told, was “an important step in recognising the feelings of the local community”. Whose feelings? Those of white, privately-educated wokesters?

Thank you, Waterfront. I’ll certainly be sure to reflect guiltily upon these historical injustices and my own white privilege as I stroll along the towpath this lunchtime. Actually, perhaps I’ll just chuck myself in the water and be done with it.

  • Greenie 1
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