Share your canal stories

Share your canal stories

For my upcoming exhibition and photo book of Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool, I’m looking for viewers to share stories that will help to shape the book and the exhibition, which will feature extracts from their stories.

Chris, who watched my short film about the deindustrialised and reflective space of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, wrote to me about memories of his experience of a different canal (the Bridgewater Canal, Manchester). I enjoyed hearing these and loved the thought of my film triggering fond memories; so fond that he watched the film twice!

The house I grew up in was next to a semi-industrial part of the Bridgewater canal and I spent my childhood on it. I learnt to fish on it, my friend’s brother drowned in it,  and when I was about nine I walked along it all day with the Smith brothers,  until it started to go dark. We emerged somewhere between Trafford Park and Manchester city centre. We had no idea where we were and no money. But we did know the 263 bus went near our houses,  so we stopped people to ask them where to catch it and then sold our football cards to some kids we met, to raise the bus fare home. The Smith brothers were not allowed to play with me again.


Someone else contacted me with the tragic story of a grandfather who had ended his own life on the canal, shortly following the death of his wife. They sent a newspaper clip from 1934 …

It would be fantastic to hear from anyone else about the memories, fond or otherwise, that watching the film brings back*. Information on how to contact me, including through social media is linked here, or simply leave a comment in the box below.

*by sharing these stories you are giving permission for me to feature them or extracts in my photography project. To receive updates on the project, please sign up to the newsletter.

Andrew Fitzgibbon

Yorkshire fine art and documentary photographer.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I remember seeing the flag on the canal in Barnoldswick. My first impression was that it was some National Front supporter’s house. It was intimidating for me as a person of colour. I had walked from Skipton to Barnoldswick. I had walked through many places before I reached Barnoldswick. It was the only flag along the journey. This man might be a proud Yorkshire man but must understand that only the official government building should fly the flag.

    1. Thank you Zahid. You give an important reminder that how any of us see things is based on our own experiences and environment. Everything can be read and understood in different ways. I hope you were left to peacefully enjoy your walk?

  2. I grew up right next to the Leeds to Liverpool (l’pool end)and have many memories of it, both good and bad. I still regularly walk down its paths, taking the dogs for a walk has always been the driving force in going there, however the simple beauty that is there also pulls me. Living in a reasonably built up area both now and as a child the canal was one of the few places I could go to experience nature and wildlife.
    As a child I walked it with parents , I leant precariously over the edge and watched snails slide along on green marginal plants, life under the surface seemed something no-one was interested in, as a child ,it fascinated me. At secondary school we did an Annual money raising walk down the canal, always on a scorchingly hot day, but with huge slippery puddles on the ground. As a teenager I experienced my first taste of freedom down on the canal, I walked the dog there alone, however that brought with it the reality of unpredictable ‘flashers’ and taught me too be wary of strangers. As an adult I am aware that quiet places sometimes attract ‘odd’ people and to some extent this has meant that I walk there with friends or just several large dogs. The beauty that I saw as a chid is still there, some passages of the canal cleaner than others, some overgrown with natural fauna and wildlife. Other areas have the rubbish of previous generations, which is also fascinating. Running silently through the local area, it still interests me, like a secret, forgotten era most people are not interested in visiting it, it does have a seemingly thriving barge community and I will forever love its peace in a busy world. Your photos captured the juxta position of the various elements of the canal and I like that, it is both beautiful and ugly at the same time, but the uglyness is of man’s doing.

    1. Hi Trudi, fascinating to hear how the canal has stayed with you over the years, its route almost becoming a metaphor for the journey of life. Your observations echo the slogan for my exhibition, ‘what will you see today?’. It’s at Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Leave a Reply

Close Menu