Past life on the waterways exhibition

Published: Monday, 28 June 2010

A PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition that reveals life on the canals in the 1940s and 50s is at present on show in Coventry.

Robert Longden's photographs of working life on Britain's inland waterways of the 1940s and 50s are being shown to the public for the first time at the Herbert Art Gallery in the city, Alan Tilbury reveals.

It was Robert's employer Sir Alfred Herbert, a local philanthropist who ran the biggest machine-tool company in the world from a factory that backed on to the Coventry canal, who bequeathed the gallery to the city.


His great-grandson Stephen Pochin, a London-based artist and photographer has spent many months cleaning and digitally enhancing the lantern slides that  Robert used as he gave talks as President of the Coventry Amateur Photography Society.

The 43 large prints capture a way of life that was coming to an end as Robert photographed the way of life on the waterways with his Leica camera.

Fill in the waterways

It was at this time that local councillors in Coventry wanted to fill in the canal, but luckily a local canal preservation society was formed to fight the plans, and  won a reprieve.

Inland Voyage: Life on the Coventry and Oxford Canals opened on Saturday  (26th June) at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry,  and runs until 30th August.