Wednesday, 18 August 2010

An Inland Voyage at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Stephen Pochin with members of one of the canal families

Robert Longden was a machinist at Alfred Herbert's main Edgewick works in Coventry while pursuing photography as his hobby as a member of the Alfred Herbert Photographic Society (which later became the Coventry Photographic Society),  particularly photographing the canal boats and families who lived on them around the Hawkesbury canal junction. Many of his fine black and white photographs, developed in his darkroom under the stairs of his house, were thrown out by his wife after his death in 1957, and the rest were lost until his great-grandson, Stephen Pochin (himself a photographer) found and restored them from the original slides.

Stephen gave a fascinating talk on Robert Longden's work in the gallery at The Herbert displaying some 40 of his best surviving photographs, explaining their history and the scenes depicted. Particularly moving was the presence at the talk of several of the children shown by Longden as living on the barges, some of who spoke of their hard but happy lives on the water before the canals were nationalised and their way of life ended.

Click here for a description of the exhibition by a canal enthusiast and the heading for some more photos from the talk

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