BOATERS, fisherman and narrowboat lovers took to the water to share their stories of Sheffield’s canals, writes Laura Drysdale.
The storytellers hopped on board Lena, a 47ft-long narrowboat and told their tales of living and working on the canal system.
Their memories of the Sheffield to Tinsley Navigation are being collated in a bid to create a digital audio trail of the Attercliffe Valley.
Deborah Egen, project leader, said: “The canal is a hidden jewel in Sheffield. It is extremely beautiful but not many people use it. We want the trail to highlight the cultural history of the canal system and make it seem more inviting for people in the local communities.”
Sheffield painter Joe Scarborough pushed the boat out for The Story of Us trail, leading the way with his own personal recollections.
His artwork captures the city’s social heritage and has been inspired by his experiences on the canals.
He wants to incorporate the industrial sounds of the city into the recordings.
Mr Scarborough said: “You have to remember Sheffield has always been a city of noise. The east end was alive with sounds and the canal wound its way through that soundscape of industry and manufacturing.
“You could always hear the drop hammers of the foundries and steelworks echoing through the valley.”
Gordon Lambert, owner of CV Marine, which provided Lena, said: “The canal is like a beautiful island surrounded by industry and it’s important we raise awareness for this often overlooked area of Sheffield as it has such a rich history.”
Deborah, sound recorder Martin Hogg and his assistant Oscar Cook collected 30 stories throughout the day.
Deborah said: “We have collected small histories from people who have lived, worked and observed the canal.
“We want to build on the stories in a digital library and give the trail recordings as a gift to the city, so people can learn about the history of the waterways.”
“Some fascinating experiences were shared during the day. One visitor said her grandmother saw the canal being bombed by Zeppelins during World War One.
“She spoke about the blazing aftermath with huge clouds of smoke rising from the valleys. It painted an incredible visual picture.”
The Port of Sheffield audio trail will be launched in September 2012.
The Story of Us can be heard during the week-long Festival of The Mind, at Sheffield University from Thursday, September 20, to Sunday, September 30.
Anyone can take part in the project or find out more at www.theportofsheffield.co.uk or call The Blue Shed at 0114 261 1126.