More about the 1923 boat men’s strike

A giant picnic was organised to celebrate 90 years since the first major strike on the Engish canal network.

Almost 150 people turned out to the Stop House Garden at Braunston on Tuesday last week to remember the strike. The day included live music, food and short guided walks organised by residents, members of the Canal Society, the local Labour Party,Canal and Rivers Trust, Braunston Marina, local trade unionists, the village church and others.

A picnic by the canal in Braunston celebrated an important anniversary in the history of the village, the canals and the trade union and Labour movement today (Tuesday).''Pictured: Tim Coghlan & Abigail Campbell.

A picnic by the canal in Braunston celebrated an important anniversary in the history of the village, the canals and the trade union and Labour movement today (Tuesday).''Pictured: Tim Coghlan & Abigail Campbell.

It marked the strike which took place in 1923 when around fifty canal families used their boats to block the canal at Braunston opposing wage cuts for boat crews.

It was the first major strike on the English canal system, canal workers staying out for 14 weeks before their victory. The strike reduced the wage cuts and established the right for boatworkers to belong to a union.

Outdoor and boating journalist Peter Frost, who lives in Braunston, said: “We decided to mark the event because it is a very important one in British history and all those people who went on strike should not be forgotten.

“We were delighted with the turnout as we had lots of people from canal boating families. We printed out a lot of photos of the strike and we had people picking out their grandparents which just added to the atmosphere of it.”

Over 100 booklets containing a short history of the strike were given out on the day and band Life and Times performed a special song to commemorate it.

Unite the union sponsored the day with guest Julia Long coming along to celebrate.

Cllr for Braunston and Welton Abigail Campbell said: “There was a really good atmosphere with people wanting to find out more about this historic event in their village.

“Braunston is very much a working village and that’s because of the canal. People feel at home here and the day was very emotional for that reason with people celebrating that link to the canal.”

A small amount of money was left over from the day which will be used to start a fund to form a monument by the canal to commemorate the strikers.