Swimming rabbits, skating on the frozen canal and mink.

These are just some of the stories that the poet Rowan McCabe has discovered from knocking on the doors of people’s housing who live around the Bridgewater Canal.

It is all part of a project,Est.1761,a wider programme of activities intended to inspire and engage local communities with the story of the historic Canal whose building would drive the industrial revolution in Manchester and ultimately the wider world.

From performing at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe and on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, Rowan is travelling the length of the Bridgewater Canal through Salford, knocking on doors as he goes. Residents along the waterway are being encouraged to tell McCabe about their relationship with the Bridgewater Canal before he writes a poem specially for them.

The project is a Heritage Lottery Project designed to connect people more with the canal which opened in 1761,as well as other projects centred around the canal including environmental and clean up days, covering all age groups from primary schools right through to dementia sufferers as well as a summer event on the 8th July.

Rowan was spotted on BBC Radio and his methods were seen as a good way of connecting with people who may not have been reached in other ways.

He heard stories about the problems of riding a bike along the canal towpath,then heard about the mink that lived across the road, a rabbit that escaped birds by swimming across it and the man who skated down the canal during the cold winter of ten years ago.

Rowan hadn’t heard about the canal before he was invited onto the project but prior to coming to Salford did his research and was astounded by how its building would shape the industrial revolution in Manchester and beyond as its linking of the Duke of Bridgewater’s mines in Worsley to the heart of the city would bring down the price of coal, ulimately placing Manchester at the heart of the steam driven industrial revolution.


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