…..all the rage but nothing new.
Working from home might be a new (and very welcome) change for those used to being tied to the long commute and office politics surrounding whether you put in for the leaving present of someone you don’t recall ever meeting, but on the river it’s nothing new. The lives of my spiritual predecessors since the 1650s ;the Wharfingers, Lock Keepers, Weir Keepers and past Lengthsmen were very much tied to the river, as mine is today. The Wharfingers looked after the loading and unloading of cargoes, safe passage of working boats and the charging and recording of their cargoes, no doubt among many other things lost in time. For that they needed to be on hand and know the river, its moods, the boats and the characters along the river and came to know its wildlife. All things I strive to do in my job today.
Granted, many of the tools I use today would be foreign to my counterparts of old but many remain unchanged. The windlass, well know to all canal boat users today, is the essential piece of kit for adjusting water levels. My particular set of weirs at Walsham have remained unchanged since they were installed in 1884. They were probably not much different before that, and that continuity is part of the joy of this place. That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to our fancy new water level gauges that will replace (or more accurately probably join) the marmite lid I use to see if the water levels need adjusting. And I certainly wouldn’t want to give up my chainsaw (called Matilda – it’s a long story) or petrol strimmer (although my scything course was good fun) and the only horse drawn boat here now is purely for pleasure trips. It’s all about knowing the river then you’ll best know how to look after it.