Digital Library: People menu


People's Stories

This collection holds first person narrative accounts of what life was like on the waterways of Yorkshire. These accounts are very important, being written down versions of oral history, committed to paper after interview or by the individuals themselves.

Our collection of digital documents relating to Yorkshire’s waterways may be accessed by choosing a topic below and clicking the button: 

Laurie Dews: The Story of a River Bargeman

This booklet arose from the “Hidden Heritage of Selby” project run by Groundwork North Yorkshire around 2010/2011. 

The project’s Education Officer was David Lewis. While undertaking research into Selby’s past, David had come across retired bargeman Laurie Dews who enthusiastically allowed David to record Laurie’s memories of his working life and also contributed written material and photographs.  


George Southern: Days on a Horse-drawn Working Barge

Schoolboy George Southern would often accompany his father Joseph, skipper of a coal barge, during the school summer holidays. In later life, he recalled his memories of those trips and aspects of his life as the son of a waterman  for the benefit of a wider audience.

This version of George’s story was originally published in ten parts in The Wakefield Kinsman  during 2017 – 2020.

 Publication permission for copyright images

We acknowledge that copyright images are being shown for which no explicit permission to publish has been given to this Society. Many of the digital images shown had originally been produced with the knowledge and permission of the now defunct Yorkshire Waterways Museum from original photographs deposited there for public display.  Following the closure of that organisation in 2019 and the break up of their collection those original photographs have disappeared and have effectively been lost to the public.

Through an incredible stroke of good fortune digital copies of those images were donated to this Society in 2022 allowing our volunteers to finally achieve the wishes of those photographers and collectors who had made the original donations.

If you are the copyright holder and would like to contact the Society please use the form below.


Become a Member

For 2023 there is no charge for membership of the Society. You will be sent our regular email newsletter telling you what's new and coming soon. To register simply fill in the form below and click Sign up today!

Become a Member

* indicates required


Your help and donations in keeping the society, it's research and website running are much appreciated!