Monday, 29 April 2013

A horseboating spectacle was seen along the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath through Silsden on the afternoon of April 29. Drawn by Bilbo Baggins, the 60ft. long narrow boat Elland was on its way to the Skipton Waterways Festival taking place over the May Day bank holiday weekend. Bilbo is pictured above being led by Sue Day, chairperson and founder of the Horseboating Society, which aims to preserve the heritage and skills of what for more than 200 years was a main form of transporting goods. Elland is believed to have been built in Leeds around 1865. It is one of only a few horseboats left in Britain. The Society is always in need of volunteer crews ( 
The first two canal boats, carrying coal to Skipton, came through Silsden in 1773. The following year a by-law was passed allowing barges to carry passengers and their luggage at a cost of one halfpenny per two miles. The picture shows Silsden Co-operative Society's coal boats on the canal in 1910. In his book "Silsden in Old Picture Postcards", Neil Cathey records that the boats bore the names "Progress" (on the left) and "Industry".