Not long ago Natascha had a chat with the chap from the coal boat, she moaned about the overcrowded canal network in London and that the CRT (Canal & River Trust) are not really supporting bargees in town, how bad the facilities are, etc. Just a good old moan because life as a bargee isn’t always that romantic. He replied that the canal network is too old and can hardly cater for the masses of boats going up and down the locks and apparently this constant movement puts a strain on them. Fair point.
A thought that crossed Nat’s mind many times, is that somehow the bargee community isn’t as such respected by the society, rather vilified sometimes. When she arrived in London back in 2002, the Regents Canal was a no-go area at night, way too dangerous. It got safer with the arrival of the boater community, we believe, though the odd disturbed mind was still around and making peoples life a problem, for sure.
Another thing that we really find problematic is, that, the bargee way of life should be regarded as an enrichment for society. Is there any where in Europe such a community of “water gypsies”? We don’t think so. Hence, why not cherish, support and even protect it?
A beautiful three minute film on boater life from “The Guardian“: