Ray Butler is a folk singer, he is also a canal and narrowboat enthusiast. Invisible Folk Club host Jon Bickley and producer Steve Yarwood traveled to the Grand Union Canal at Harefield (Borough of London) excited at the prospect of a first field recording. Or to be completely accurate it was a waterborne recording!
Ray welcomed us aboard Pisces and we sat in the small cabin at the rear of the boat listening his unaccompanied songs about the lives and times of hard working boatmen. Between songs Ray took us through a fascinating history of British canals. As well as the singing and conversation we also captured the ambient sounds of a stretch of canal still used by working boats.
Narrowboat Pisces was built in Northwich (Cheshire) by WJ Yarwood & Sons in 1935. In 1942 she was requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport as a fire boat based in the Surrey Commercial Docks. Since the mid 60s she has been owned by the London Borough of Hillingdon as a youth outreach facility and latterly the Hillingdon Narrowboats Association for leisure activities.
For more info visit the Hillingdon Narrowboats Association website http://www.hna.org.uk/. While you're there check the details of the Grand Charity Concert on October 13th 2018 to mark 50 years community service by Pisces.
For general canal information https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/