British Universities Film & Video Council

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WORKING WEEK-END

Series

Series Name
Mining Review 12th Year

Issue

Issue No.
1
Date Released
Sep 1958
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1CHOPWELL BEAUTY
  2. 2WORKING WEEK-END
  3. 3COALS FOR CHINA
  4. 4ADVANCE

Story

Story No. within this Issue
2 / 4
Summary
BFI synopsis: two canal enthusiasts who ferry coal from Staffordshire to Worcester in their own barge
NCB Commentary - At Anglesea Canal Basin by Brownhills, Staffs, narrow boats are being loaded with small coal from the Cannock Chase coalfield.
Odd boat out among them is the "ARCTURUS", owned by a 2-man company, O. H. Prosser and Peter Froud, civil servant and schoolmaster, to whom canals have a compelling fascination, and who devote their weekends to transporting coal between Brownhills and Worchester.
Once away from Brownhills, the "Arcturus" sails through flat but pleasant countryside on the first leg of her 50 mile journey.
Soon, after passing under Telford’s famous Galton Bridge, the black country is reached and the Canal strikes right though the heart of Birmingham. Sign-posts point the way to Canal navigators.
At Kings Norton comes the West Hills Tunnel, 1 1/4 miles long, one of the six longest in Britain.
Now the scenery becomes more rural as the "Arcturus" plods on at a steady average of 2 knots.
Canal transport is slow but reliable. A. F. Herbert once said that the race between the railways and canal boats is a race between tortoises and water snails. The water snails win by a short horn.
On the 50 mile journey there are 76 locks to be negotiated. For its length the Worchester and Birmingham canal is the most heavily locked in the world, and its incline one of the steepest in Britain. The "Arcturus" tows one lock gate shut behind her. Meanwhile, Prosser opens the paddles in the forward gates to let out the water, and the "Arcturus" sinks to her new level.
Prosser and Froud live on board taking turns at the tiller or in the gallery as they plod on steadily day and night. They run another boat for holiday tours as well.
And now here’s journey’s end, the Porcelain factory at Worchester.
Even before the "Arcturus" draws up alongside the wharf, Prosser and Froud get out their shovels to shift their 25 ton cargo on to the stock pile.
Researcher Comments
Commentary recorded 25th July 1958.
Keywords
Ships and boats; Transport; Mining
Locations
England; Staffordshire; Worcestershire
Written sources
British Film Institute Databases   Used for synopsis
Film User   Vol.13 No.147 January 1959, p27.
The National Archives COAL 32   /12 Scripts for Mining Review, 1956-1960
Credits:
Production Co.
Documentary Technicians Alliance
Sponsor
National Coal Board

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