I’ve blogged before about Robert Longden’s documentary photographs of the last years of working canal life. An Inland Voyage, an exhibition of 43 photographs made by Longden at Hawkesbury Junction, opens on Saturday at The Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry (until 30th Aug 2010). The exhibition will be accompanied by original items from working narrowboats…

“Inland Voyage reveals the remarkable photographic archive of Coventry factory worker, Robert Longden. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he documented an intimate history of a working life now long gone. The photographs record the narrow boat people he encountered on the waterways, including at Coventry’s power station and at Sutton Stop canal junction near Hawkesbury. They catch forever the moment of transformation which saw canals change from being industrial thoroughfares to locations for leisure. Longden’s archive has been especially digitally restored and printed for this exhibition.”

Sadly, it seems he never saw the revival of the British canals…

“Two years before Longden’s death, aged 78, councillors in Coventry were clamouring to fill in the waterways and cover them with Tarmac. Thankfully, a local canal preservation society was formed to fight the plans, and they won a reprieve. Today the canal basin warehouses are full of artists’ studios, and there are more than 30 pieces of public art along the five-mile stretch to Sutton Stop, where the Coventry and Oxford canals converge.”

For those who can’t visit, there’s a book of the pictures called A Canal People.