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The National Forest’s LANDshapes project interview with Harry Hines

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LANt027 Harry Hines
LANDshapes Oral History interview summary

Join mining engineer turned boat builder Harry Hines down by the canal as he talks of his memories of life in The National Forest and his work in boat building, which began as a hobby making canoes. Finding the right site for a boat building business was certainly a challenge! In 1973 Harry discovered a site which he describes as "….derelict. Anybody, any builder who had any rubbish to tip, this is where he tipped it…. builders' rubble all over the site which we had to get rid of eventually". When the site was being developed some interesting archaeological discoveries were made including an 'eel rake "…. the boatmen used to catch eels for food…. Quite a lot of glass bottles, base of an old cast-iron oil lamp and a lot of shoes and boots for some reason, which we never did find out why!". Talking of the increasing popularity in boat ownership Harry explains "The number of boats on the canals these days are far more than in the days of the working boats. People talk about the era of the working boats being the highlight of the canals. It's not. There's far more boats today than ever there was in those days. It's very…very, very popular".

Differences in the way that narrow boats have been designed and equipped in the last 30 years have been dramatic "There was no such thing as central heating. All boats we built had fridges and showers whereas a lot of boats….didn't. A lot of boats have got dual drive, electric drive….and they also drive other things on the boat as well… microwaves… computers… These days anything you want". Hear about the rumoured bag of golden guineas which was lost in the canal and the story of the ghostly policeman who reputedly still haunts the area!

Interviewer: Roger Kitchen.
Interview Date: 22/03/2005
Landshape Zone: Trent Valley Washlands
Parish: Shobnall
Location: Shobnall, Staffordshire,
Date of birth: 1929
Location of Original Originals held with The National Forest Company
Reference LANt027

Photo of Harry Hines

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Last updated: 15/9/2005
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