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Lancaster Canal to feature on ITV series

Lancaster Canal Trust are pleased to announce that the Barging Around Britain series by John Sergeant will be televised 22nd April on ITV. A great deal of detail was supplied by the Trust and hope this is recognised.

Barging Round Britain – Series 2 finally has a transmission date. The series will be shown on ITV from Friday, 22nd of April.

To make sure you catch the episode that you are most interested in, please find below the order they will be shown at:

1. Peak Forest Canal 2. Rochdale Canal. 3. Lancaster Canal. 4. Worcester Canal. 5. Oxford Canal
6. Regents Canal. Rita Cabral, Production Coordinator, Alaska TV.

Our Archivist Keith Tassart and Brian Crawley have been inspecting old canal coke oven sites, and managed to gather together and burn all the brash left over from the tree cutting work at the coal yard site at Crooklands. I am sure the proprietor and tenants are grateful for this long overdue task.
There will be a work party Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March to clean up Millness depot. 9.30 ish.

Neil McGarry is taking his Caraboat to this years Trailboat Festival on the Chesterfield Canal. They supported us on last years rally at the end of May, and we intended to have a stand at their event. However, with all the flooding and damage we have had to change our plans. Neil has been asked to explain to chairman Rod Auton why we have had to withdraw.

Frank Sanderson. Public Relations Officer, Lancaster Canal Trust. Tel. 015395 66967


Interview with John Sergeant about the series


Q: How would you describe the series?

It’s the most exciting canal programme you’ll ever see. There are so many twists and turns, you think it’s just going to be an ordinary journey but it doesn’t have that ordinariness about it. There are people we meet that will surprise and interest you and there are scenes that I don’t think people will expect in a travelogue. So we’re trying to get a mixture between telling people exactly where we are and it’s a beautiful day and it’s British summer, but also having a bit of fun. But the amusing bits come out of the people we meet and the places we go. We’re not trying to impose comedy on the canals but the comedy naturally stems from the scenes we come across.

Making it was just so enjoyable, so when people see it in the winter when it’s cold, they’ll just think, ‘Ah’. Last summer was one of the best summers we’ve ever had, certainly in my lifetime. We didn’t miss a day’s shoot. It was wonderful and it’s an eye opener for people who don’t know about the canals. People might think it’s going to be for people who are interested in boats or boring machines and diesel engines but it’s not meant to be about that, it’s meant to be a case of, ‘come and enjoy it with us’.

Q: Where does your own interest in barging come from?

I’m very keen on boating and I’ve been keen on boats all my life. I go sailing every summer with my brother and so the whole life on board, I don’t really know why it’s fascinating or intriguing but I just like messing around on them. The whole boating thing, I enjoy. Although I didn’t know the canals very well, other than every now and then making li[le films about them but nothing like this. Also I’m very interested in history so when we get to anything historical, I find that just easy because it’s what I know. There are moments when that feel for history, particularly with canals is very important.

It’s an astonishing thing to have the canals still there and able to use them. There’s no real equivalent. If all the steam trains were still working and if you could go by steam all over Britain then yes, that would be. But we actually can do that with canals. OK, they’re not horse-drawn. But the sensation and living and what you are seeing are exactly the same as when they were built. That is really something. And of course because we’re going to the best places, it can’t be boring! It was a bit of a dream project really. I was thrilled to bits to be asked.

Q: In the series you explore eight of our greatest canal journeys, did you have a personal favourite?

The one that I did like for all sorts of reasons, was the Caledonian Canal which takes you from Inverness to Fort William cuting across the Scotish highlands, it was fantastic. We were on an old fishing boat, not on a narrow boat, the crew happened to be terrific and if you get that in good weather, you are going along the Great Glen and I just defy anyone to say that’s not fantastic.

We got monsters thrown in, we didn’t manage to find the Loch Ness monster for some reason although I was confident we would. But we came across two people who were convinced they had seen the Loch Lochy Monster so that was impressive. We see them in the programme. I don’t mind. A monster is a monster.

Q: Was there anywhere you hadn’t visited before that took you by surprise?

I used to know Bath quite well because I went to school near there and I hadn’t realised the extent to which the Bath stone which you see in beautiful buildings, that honey coloured facing stone, I didn’t realise that that was totally dependent on the canals. It wouldn’t have become a famous facing stone. It sounds nerdish but it gives Bath this lovely colour, a lovely warm honey brown colour. You see it in Bath on the buildings and every now and then you see it in London, when we go to Lancaster House. To think everyone wanted his Portland stone, you couldn’t have transported it without the canals.

Q: You meet some interesWng people along the way, any stories that touched you?

Well, Freddie, the horse I met. He was this great big horse, and I don’t normally spend a lot of time with animals but I did bond with

Freddie. He was pulling a narrow boat with tourists in and I was given the charge of him as we plodded along near Newbury and most of the time I was just on my own with Freddie and we had a good chat. It was funny, at the end I took out some peppermints for him. It was so da] but lovely. The live-ons were always interesting too, a guy called Badger, they really were escaping. And there was a shy woman we met, her husband had died so she was living on her own on the narrow boat, like an incredible Viking leader where his wife would stay on board. The tailor we meet in episode one was great, like out of central casting in Hollywood. A very thin, pencil like guy and so quick, of course he could immediately measure me up. The contrast of me and him, I found funny. Also the guy in the whisky distillery was fun. I was tasting the whisky and very slowly geNng drunk but he is wonderfully serious about the whisky and I’m sipping away and I love all that. Not rehearsed, but he was just brilliant. Then I run off with the barrel.

Q: Any other personal highlights during filming? The beer-tasWng? Aerobics? Smashing ceramics? Making flour?

Going over the Aqueduct was a highlight. Amazing. Also on the Aire and Calder Canal programme we went to a flower club and I completely mess up doing some planting and they are all so charming and nice and I am the worst gardener in the world. That was a fun day, just because they were so sweet. Then I had to join the women exercising….People are more used to television cameras now than they used to be, they know it’s going to be good fun and the joke’s going to be on me, and so they want to get involved. We meet some great people.

Q: Why do you think barging is so popular in this country?

There’s a real element of mystery and adventure, and people like a mystery. What are these strange waterways? Where are they going, tunnels, you’re not on an ordinary road. Whatever happens, there is a mysterious journey. There is also a companionship with the people you are with and the kids love it and your holiday home is with you, if you’re on holiday. But I think there’s a deeper reason too, the Bri2sh thing about how do we use history? I think we use history because we enjoy it and it gives us comfort and it strengthens us. And the idea that we are able to dip into the time of Henry VIII and at that point Britain was at the top of the world because of the Industrial revolution and you are looking at what at the time was the greatest, most important canal network in the world. I think people are proud. The fantastic, British engineers. The whole thing is a sort of celebration of our country and that might sound pretentious but I don’t think it is. I think it gets people. They don’t need to know a great deal about it but are kind of proud of it.

Q: Any top tips for first time bargers?

Planning. Choose your route, that’s the main thing. Because you’re only going at 4mph so if you make a mistake in the route planning, you can’t just take the barge and drive off down the road with it. Decide how far you can go, what you want to see and obviously what the crew want to do and are capable of. The planning is more important than anything else.

Barging Round Britain with John Sergeant starts on Friday 13th February at 8.00pm on ITV.

The official companion to the series, Barging Round Britain by John Sergeant and David Bartley is available from Michael Joseph (Hardback and Ebook, £20,



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