A photo has been posted on the ‘ Friends Reunited’ website of a barge trip that first year graphic design students took in June 1969. The first year over, everyone had bonded and become friends so it was a lovely way to end the year before we went to our summer jobs. We hired a barge and travelled the Leicester branch of the Midlands canal system for a week, and what a week! There was not a cloud in the sky the whole time. The sun blazed all day, we got sunburnt, and at night we slept like sardines on camp beds covered in thin silver radiation blankets.
Pictured are, back row, David Jones, Trevor Burrows, the only boy in ‘ The Etchings’, Ian Scaife, David Baldwin, Mick Partlett, Alistair Allport, John Dashwood, Pete Laws.
Front row, Rachel Beckingham, one of my friends living at ‘The Etchings’, Joan Laverick, Jane Baird, also from ‘The Etchings’, me, Marisol Arias- Barias, and John Bayley.
For poor Marisol [in stripy sweater] this sunny trip was respite from the usual miserable cold and wet of Leicester. She was from Caracas and missed the hot sunny climate so much. John Bayley, seated next to her, used to make his own shirts in real Liberty Fabrics. These were gorgeous fine cotton lawns and the girls drooled over them. He also had a beautifully cut blazer which had fine vermillion and pale grey striping. I have no idea what I was wearing but it looks like it was doing a disappearing act as the week progressed. We never quite got the hang of the speed the barge should be doing and had an accident turning a corner too fast which resulted in a collision with a small pleasure boat parked at a quay. The boys went looking for someone but no one was around and the boat started to sink so we scarpered. Parts of the canal were very low and the barge became grounded on sandbanks, we had to all physically haul the barge by rope into deeper water. I know there is a photo of this somewhere. Jane Baird lost her camera when she was taking a group shot at the front of the barge and failed to duck as we went under a bridge. Joan Laverick was the only one to fall into the canal and her eyes swelled shut for the remainder of the week. In those days everything was ‘chucked into the cut’ as they used to say. The canals were basically garbage dumps, I think they are cleaned up now. I seem to remember some of the tutors showing up somewhere to check if we were o.k.
For all of us who were there it is a very strong memory and the best holiday I have ever had.