An Inland Voyage journeys through mid-20th century canals at National Waterways Museum

By Katherine Mulraney | 28 April 2011
A black and white photo of a man standing on a canal boat
Exhibition: An Inland Voyage, National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, until June 30 2011

This atmospheric show depicts working life on Britain’s canals in the 1940s and 50s through the evocative photographs of Robert Longden, documenting a dying way of life through the narrowboat people Langden encountered and befriended. 

The striking shots depict grimy children and proud working families in a display encapsulating the world the museum aims to recreate.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s the canals were changing from industrial thoroughfares to locations for leisure. Within ten years of Langden’s death, in 1957, working boats were no longer in use.

Longden was a Coventry factory worker and president of Coventry Photography Society. The 43 photographs in the exhibition were originally lantern slides which he used as props in his talks.

Longden’s great-grandson, Stephen Pochin, an artist and photographer who lovingly restored his great grandfather’s slides, has curated the show.

Pochin retraced Longden’s footsteps, travelling the towpath to record the area as it is today.  His colourful shots contrast with the old brooding images of a smoky industrial landscape.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission £4-£6 (under-5s free).
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