River Ouse Bargeman (Paperback)
A Lifetime on the Yorkshire Ouse
BBC Radio York interview with Laurie Dews (13/10/17) and with both Laurie Dews and David Lewis (21/09/17) both interviews took place on the Jonathan Cowap show.
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The Ouse reaches into the heart of Yorkshire from the Humber Estuary. Until the 1980s, loaded barges made the challenging journey from Hull to Selby, bearing bulk cargoes for the mills of the town. The bargees had to be tough and resourceful; physically strong enough to handle their craft, wise enough to combat the rivers shifting currents and savvy enough to deal with those supplying short measure.
Laurie Dews of Selby worked the Ouse from 1937 to 1987, and is now the only ,man remaining with first-hand experience of a lost way of life. In this book, "River Ouse Bargeman", Laurie's words of wit and wisdom give a skippers eye view of a barge loaded to the gunwales fighting upstream, unloading at the mill and drifting back with the tide.
Laurie spins many a yarn about a bargeman's social life, too. His first-hand account includes the mysterious river crafts of singling out and penning up, the tricks and tell tales to show where the ever-shifting river channel lay and the camaraderie of life in the close-knit watery world.
In this book, alongside Laurie's account, there is a factual commentary, illustrated by many images from Laurie's collection dating back over a century, and extracts from official documents and maps.
Rather than ghost-write this biography, David Lewis has successfully woven Laurie's own words into his narrative.Railway and Canal Historical Society
Illustrated with family photographs - that detail is its strength, Laurie's family should be pleased with the result.
Laurie’s warm character shines through this book which stands as a testament both to the man and a snapshot of a time when the Yorkshire Ouse was alive with working barges.Towpath Talk, October 2017 – reviewed by Kathryn Smith
As featured inThis England, Autumn 2017
As featured inNarrow Boat, July 2017
... a valuable reminder of just how hard was the workday lives of the bargemen.Water Craft magazine, July/August 2017 - reviewed by Pete Greenfield
While the book primarily tells Laurie's story, it is much more than a biography, with the author providing factual insights and commentary to contextualise and expand upon Laurie's (often amusing) anecdotes. Further insights are provided by a good number of excellent archive images dating back over a century, alongside official documents and maps.Waterways World, July 2017 – reviewed by James Francis Fox
The work comes profusely illustrated, 144 photos in black and white and colour, most unpublished to be personal and the collection of the same Laurie.José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM
An interesting book that portrays a region and an era through the vicissitudes that occurred in the life of a river boatman, using water as the nexus and main element of the story.
Read the complete Spanish review here.
'...an unforgettable portrait of a bargeman's life.'York Press
'[This book] stands as a wonderful tribute to a lost way of life.'