Episode 44 Bosworth Summit Lock by L T C Rolt

L T C Rolt

Lionel Thomas Caswall Rolt, was an English writer born in 1910 and who died in 1974, therefore for us, he’s a recent writer! He was a prolific writer who had an interest in engineering and that shows in this story in his description of the tunnels and the knowledge of ventilation shafts which are integral to the plot of the story. 

In keeping with this love of engineering, he wrote biographies of major engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford. He had a major enthusiasm for vintage cars, heritage railways and was a pioneer of the canal cruising industry. Write what you know, they say, and he did.

His father was a bit of a pioneer and had worked on an Australian cattle station s well as a plantation in India and being part of the Yukon gold rush in 1898.

Rolt’s father and uncle were interested in engineering and machines and his uncle had a horse drawn canal boat which he fitted with a steam engine and then a petrol engine.

From 1936, Rolt decided he wanted a life afloat and he converted his uncle’s old boat Cressy into a boat he could live in and spent his time mooching up and down the canals of England.

During the Second World War, he went to work for Rolls Royce and made Spitfire engines, the Royal Airforce’s legendary fighter plan. 

After the war, Rolt teamed up with Robert Aickman, another major ghost story writer to form the Inland Waterways Association to promote the use of the canals and restore them. 

Bosworth Summit Lock

As noted, Rolt was a friend of Robert Aickman, author and editor, due to their shared love of canals. Kai Roberts, compares their work and finds Aickman’s work quite radical (it is very unnerving) where Rolt’s ghost stories are more traditional.

Rolt set a number of his stories on the railways and canals. 

What I particularly, loved about this story, Bosworth Pound Lock, is the setting. As well as traditionally moral ghost story; boy messes with girl beneath his station, gets girl pregnant, boy kills girl by dumping her down a ventilation shaft into a canal tunnel, girl gets revenge as a ghost by dragging boy into canal with her, girl and boy are happily reuninted in the grave.

But as well as this we have a lovely description of him fishing on his canal boat on a golden May evening, with the fresh leaves, the birds, the gentle flow of the water. It’s just what we need in times like this.

Of course, the victim’s mother is a Gypsy with second sight and she sees the boys murder as a marriage with her daughter.

Another little synchronicity (or not) is that I am reading The Stopping Places by Damien Le Bas, which is a book about Damien revisiting the places his Romany family used to stop as they travelled around the country. That’s another book which is balm to the soul in these times of Corona Virus when we can’t get out.

Check out:

The Stopping Places US Link The Stopping Places UK Link

Kai Robert’s article on Rolt is here

And finally,

I hope you are well, and bearing up. We shall overcome. What is really lovely to me is that the world is united against this enemy. I really hope this sense of unity will remain and that we can then turn to deal with the disasters that seem to be caused by global warming and fix that problem before it’s too late!

Take care, all.

Tony

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Music

Beginning music ‘Some Come Back’ is by the marvellous  Heartwood Institute . The end music is by MYUU Bad Encounter

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