Endurance and strength

These image are from the archive and show the lock keeper on the Rochdale Canal in the centre of Manchester in the Spring of 1977.  Those gnarled, strong hands look as though they have endured a lifetime on the cut (Travel Theme: Strong & Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance).

In those days the Rochdale was still in private ownership and you were obliged to pay for the descent along the short stretch of canal which links the Ashton Canal with the Bridgewater at Castlefield.  There was so much water flowing down the Rochdale that it cascaded over the back gates and made the process of emptying the lock a long, slow process.  When I passed this way again in 2008 the lock keeper and the house adjacent to the top lock were gone but, the plumbing remained a problem.

Lock keeper ...

Lock keeper ...

(click on the images to enlarge)


  1. Tina Schell · September 21, 2014

    Very interesting and a great fit for the challenge. Enjoyed it!

    • northumbrianlight · September 21, 2014

      Many thanks Tina – funny how some images stick in your mind, even 37 years later.

  2. LaVagabonde · September 21, 2014

    That gentleman looks like a crusty old salt.

  3. Cate Franklyn · September 21, 2014

    I love your canal series. Very interesting and something that here in Queens, NY I never get a chance to see or photography, unless you count in Canal Street! 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · September 21, 2014

      Many thanks Cate – towns and cities in the UK once turned their backs on these waterways but increasingly they are becoming an integrated feature of urban renewal. Long may it continue.

  4. suej · September 21, 2014

    Great response to the challenge, Robin 🙂

  5. Sarah Longes - Mirador Design · September 21, 2014

    Oh they’re great! Perfect for the Challenge 🙂 So much endurance in the waterways of the UK!

    • northumbrianlight · September 21, 2014

      Many thanks Sarah. In the late seventies you could still find the odd character who had spent their entire working life on the waterways.

      • Sarah Longes - Mirador Design · September 21, 2014

        So many traditional jobs gone these days but technology creates new for future generations. My great-uncle was a lighthouse keeper many years ago!

      • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

        In my ‘hippy days’ I had vague aspirations to be a lighthouse keeper (when they were still manned in the 1970s). Probably just as well I didn’t pursue that particular dream. Have you read this – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stargazing-Peter-Hill/dp/1841954993
        The story of someone who did.

  6. Jo · September 21, 2014

    Absolutely priceless images, just wonderful.

    • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

      Many thanks Jo – I am sure he had some fine tales to tell, some of them true 🙂

  7. sustainabilitea · September 22, 2014

    Wonderful photos! I take so photos few of people and this inspires me to try to take more.


    • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

      Many thanks Janet – it helps to have a good quality long focus lens – this was taken with a 120mm lens attached to a Mamiyaflex C330F twin lens reflex. It was the size of a wind-up movie camera 🙂

  8. Ese' s Voice · September 22, 2014

    What a wonderful choice for the challenge! Like Jo said – absolutely priceless.

  9. Malin H · September 22, 2014

    This is a wonderful post (as usual), Robin. Thank you for sharing from the archive.

    • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

      Many thanks Malin – a bit like wine (and me 😀 ), some of these images get better/more interesting with age ❤

      • Malin H · September 22, 2014

        Exactly, Robin! I know what you mean. ❤

  10. socialbridge · September 22, 2014

    Wonderful hands.

    • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

      They are aren’t they – no idle hands here, they have seen some hard work.

  11. greenmackenzie · September 22, 2014

    Wonderful shot, full of character

  12. restlessjo · September 22, 2014

    So many changes on the canals, Robin, but I’m glad that so many of them have been restored. That’s a right pair of characters you have there 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · September 22, 2014

      Very much so Jo – we are heading down the Montgomery Canal in October – when I first passed that way in 1978, but for a few derelict locks, you would not have known it was there.

  13. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance at Ground Zero | Pilot Fish
  14. Pingback: One woman = strength of ten men | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity

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