Kirk returns to Tarporley

Yesyerday I went along the Regent’s Canal to King’s Cross and the west portal of Islington tunnel.

When I approached the tunnel portal two boats were emerging. The second happened to be Tarporley.


Tarporley emerges from Islington tunnel in the evening of 16 May 2015

I was surprised when I saw who the skipper was, its about 25 years since I last volunteered on Tarporley and pretty much the same period of time for it’s skipper too, who happened to be Kirk Martin.


Kirk & his Tarporley crew as they approach the King’s Place moorings

Its actually around 20 years since Kirk last regularly skippered Tarporley, bar one stint as part of a community trip as he tells me. On the Tarporley website he is described as ‘one of our current volunteers when he had more hair!’


Kirk on Tarporley (taking a rest from skippering!) as a boat emerges from Laburnum basin, 1986

I had not seen Kirk for the best part of a decade so went over to King’s Place to very quickly say hi before cycling home.

Here are a couple of the many pics taken of our stints on Tarporley during the mid-eighties which I have featured elsewhere on the London Canals site.


Kirk struggles with rubbish around Tarporley’s prop at the entrance to the Hertford Union Canal – early 1986

Long before Kirk worked on the canals he was one of the crew on the steam operated Humber ferries, as well as being fireman on the LT pannier engines working the engineering trains between various places such as Upminster, Acton, and up the Metropolitan line to places such as the long forgotten Watford (aka Croxley) tips.

I certainly remember the red panniers as they thundered through King’s Cross Met/Circle platforms.

One book on the LT steam workings is Red Panniers co-authored by Kirk.

Another book penned by Kirk features his days on the Humber Ferries, this is Ferries across the Humber.

I have slides of the paddle steamers at work around 1976 when I took a day trip from New Holland pier to Hull.

Besides authoring these books and others, Kirk has also contributed to Waterways World and various railway magazines.

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