Press Centre

Barging Round Britain with John Sergeant

  • Episode: 

    3 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 06 May 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 18 2016 : Sat 30 Apr - Fri 06 May
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 26 April
Britain’s canal network is a true national treasure. Forged in the fire of world-changing historic events, yet set within gorgeous scenery, it’s bursting with undiscovered history and home to a vibrant community rooted in a unique way of life. In this second six-part series, John Sergeant sets off once again on a rich and colourful voyage along six of the best canal journeys Britain has to offer, exploring their extraordinary stories as he goes.  
From the tranquil rural landscape along the Oxford Canal to the impressive Peak Forest Canal, from one of the oldest and prettiest canals in Britain, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, to the Capital’s very own Regent’s Canal, every step of the way John immerses himself in living history, bringing the past to life by rolling up his sleeves, getting stuck in, and having a go at canal practices past and present.
In episode three, John takes in the delights of the Lancaster Canal, making his way from Tewitfield, down the west coast through Lancaster, on to Glasson Port and finally to Preston.
Originally built to carry coal, the ‘black gold’, up from Lancashire, and to carry white limestone down from Kendal, the canal is nicknamed the ‘black and white canal.’
As he sets off on his trip down the canal, John says: “I’ll be showing how, against all the odds, this plucky little canal managed to survive.”
As he meanders down the waterway, John can’t resist visiting the famous Carnforth railway station, where he re-enacts his favourite scene from the classic film Brief Encounter, some of which was filmed at the station.
After Carnforth, the canal crosses the River Lune on its way to Lancaster, where John marvels at the amazing engineering of the Lune Aqueduct.
He says: “The aqueduct was an early work of the great engineer John Rennie and it’s a masterpiece…built to impress.”
The importance of this canal was boosted in 1820 when a new branch was cut to the coast, to Glasson Dock, which allowed ships to have direct access to the canal. Within 10-years the dock was packed, transporting coal, slate, timber, grain, potatoes and fish. The canal was a triumph. Nowadays it makes a nice quiet mooring for the night. 
After a night spent in the dock, John says: “If there’s one thing I really like for breakfast, it’s kippers. Glasson Dock is famous for them.”
However, John has to earn his breakfast and heads off to find out how they turn the local herring into his beloved smoked kippers.
Later, and back on the canal’s main branch, John heads south to Garstang, famous for its cheeses, the Garstang Blue and the creamy and crumbly Lancashire.
A cheese-making region for hundreds of years, it was in Garstang where the original Lancashire cheese was created and where it is still made today in the traditional way, as John finds out as he gets busy separating the curd from the whey.
Onwards, and as he nears Preston, John stops off for a kick about with the remarkably fit footballers of Penwortham Ladies FC, with John saying: “Thanks very much team, I really enjoyed that. A bit frightening though.”
As he nears the end of his journey, John discovers how, in 2002, the first completely new section of canal to be built in Britain in nearly a hundred years was opened, the Ribble Link, connecting the Lancaster Canal to the River Ribble.
John says: “Isn’t that marvellous. After years of struggling from competition from the railways and the roads, it’s the canal which is being given a new lease of life.”