Songs & Poems of the inland waterways

As I’ve continued to work on my short film, I’ve be researching sound archives with the hope of finding some historic sounds to sample. What’s been particularly interesting is how these works reveal stories of everyday life on the canal that is scant in detail in official histories.

Songs of a navvy by MacGill, Patrick, 1890- , source:

The book Songs of a Navvy (Patrick MacGill (1911), Windsor) is available from ( and includes some poignant writing:

Another resource found was the website Songs of the Inland Waterways (, which includes the lyrics of many canal songs, along with some recordings. I wrote to the website owner, to thank him for the resource, in particular a 1975 recording by the BBC that includes some oral histories as well as songs and sounds from the canal when it was operated commercially.

I’ve sampled some of the sounds and added them to the next version of my film – this adds to the melancholy of the work but linking to the past and highlighting a place that once was an artery of the Industrial Revolution as a now marginal place. I hope that this will make viewers reflect on impermanence the acceptance of change.