Film ID: YFA 1034 Video of YFA_1034 Calder:Hebble Canal - Freezing and Flooding CALDER/HEBBLE CANAL - FREEZING AND FLOODING 1947 Visitor TabsDescription This is a film of the Calder & Hebble Canal during the winter of 1947. There is footage of the canal frozen as well as extreme flooding which occurred after the thaw. Barges, some horse-drawn, are try to make their way along the frozen canal using various means, such as men breaking the ice with poles from the edge of a barge and by rocking a barge from side to side. The canal has flood-damaged banks and locks, and a factory area is flooded. The film begins with a barge being pulled along a canal by horses on a towpath. Several barges are trying to make their way along a frozen canal. One barge is negotiating its way by zigzagging slalom style. Another has men breaking the ice using long poles, while a man pulls the barge by a rope as he walks along the towpath. Another barge has a large number of men on board swaying the barge from side to side. Another is being pulled by a line of men on the towpath, while men on board use poles. The canal is covered in broken pieces of ice. The barge passes through a lock with difficulty. The film switches to show the canal severely flooded and with parts of the canal bank having broken off. A dredger is clearing the debris from the canal. Parts of a building have fallen into the canal. This is followed by a dark passage of film where it is difficult to make out what is being shown, possibly a barge passing under some kind of steel structure. It proceeds along the canal which now has an extremely high water level. At one point there is an area of factories which are all flooded, with a crane stood half deep in water and barrels and other debris floating on top of the water. Later in the year the flooding has eased, and a group of men in suits and ties taking a ride on a working barge, one of the men with a pint of beer. Another one of the men, smoking a pipe, uses a piece of timber to open the gate. As a workman takes over, the man relieves himself at the side of the canal, and the film comes to an end. Context The consequences of extreme weather are seen here in an earlier manifestation from 1947, as barges battle against the ice of a frozen Hebble Canal. Then the thaw brings flooding in its wake, leaving factories under many feet of water and causing barrels to float past the stranded cranes. This 9.5 mm film was made by Howard Jackson of Halifax. The Calder and Hebble Navigation runs for 21 miles from Sowerby Bridge and connects with the River Calder at Wakefield. The Halifax section was closed in 1942, and the canals were nationalised the year after this film in 1948. The canal would carry coal from local pits such as Overton Colliery right up until 1955 when commercial use stopped. The famous winter of 1947 was at its most savage in March, hitting hard at a time of fuel and food shortages after the Second World War. Blizzards produced drifts up to 15 feet high, with some 2 million sheep perishing. And as the snow melted, this combined with high rainfall causing one of the wettest winters on record.