Cheshire’s Anderton Boat Lift appeals for information on WWI’s ‘forgotten’ waterway men
To commemorate the ‘forgotten’ waterway men of WWI, Cheshire’s Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich, part of the Canal & River Trust Charity is to release a cascade of 100,000 poppy petals from the 50ft high lift at 11am on Sunday 11 November. Hundreds of waterway men who died in WWI are likely to have been ‘forgotten’ because their itinerant lives meant they were not official residents of the towns and cities where memorials were built. Families whose waterways men relatives are not mentioned on a WWI memorial are urged to come forward so they can be recognised and remembered at this event. Members of the public are also invited to be part of this commemoration. Families with information can contact the archivist at Cheshire’s National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port, by email@example.com or calling 0151-350 1226.
Timothy Turner, General Manager, Anderton Boat Lift, said: “As we commemorate the poignant last year of the war, I am pleased that we are acknowledging the largely unrecognised contribution of Britain’s waterway men in WWI. It is humbling to think of the sacrifices they made in inhospitable and foreign waters, far from home. We hope that people will come along to be part of the poppy cascade ceremony and we would particularly welcome anyone with connections with the waterways.”
John Benson, Archivist, National Waterways Museum* said: Almost every village and town has its own WWI war memorial but this does not mean that everyone who gave their lives in WWI is commemorated on such monuments. Waterway men spent their working lives ferrying goods from place to place but as a result they were not linked to a specific village, town or city and were forgotten on memorials.”
“Most boat yards had no formal register of employees who failed to return from WWI. This seems heartless, but it must be remembered that the immediate post-war period was traumatic with many people coming to terms with having lost close relatives. Employers may simply have been unsure whether waterway men had died or moved to take advantage of better paid post-war jobs. The National Waterways Museum’s archive would welcome any information from families that could shed light on WWI or WWII waterway men.”
The Anderton Boat Lift is the world’s first successful boat lift and a pinnacle of high Victorian engineering. It is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with the same protection status as Stonehenge.The Lift is an interesting combination of working historic structure and fun, educational experience. Owned by the Canal & River Trust, it was restored in 2002 after a £7 million restoration made possible due to a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Lift still operates today, floating boats through the air between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the picturesque River Weaver. Visitors can take boat trips through the Lift and along the river.