Digital Collections landing page

Digital Collections

Photographs, documents, recordings and videos

from Yorkshire's Waterways

Since the launch of this website in 2022 , this Society has been building a collection of historic images of the people, places and vessels once found on the canals and rivers of Yorkshire. They are exhibited in what has been called our “virtual museum.” That work continues and 2024 will see the launch of six new picture galleries as we continue to add images to our collection.

2024 also sees the launch of three new media galleries to share digitised documents, video and sound recordings which we think you will find interesting.  They have been donated or loaned by enthusiasts who want to preserve and publish material about the heritage of an industry which once underpinned the industrial success of the county but today has all but disappeared. 

We welcome loans or donations of material suitable for digitisation. If you have something in your own collection which you think would benefit from being shown to a wider audience please get in touch using the form below. We would be delighted to borrow items to digitise and then return the originals to you for safe keeping.

The four different sections of our diverse  Digital Collection relating to Yorkshire’s waterways may be accessed by choosing a topic below and clicking the button: 

Picture Galleries

This diverse collection of pictures show the people, places and vessels once found on the canals and rivers of Yorkshire. Organised into themed galleries over two thousand images are available to browse at your leisure.

Documents, Booklets and Reports

Our new collection of printed material offers the opportunity to read historical publications. Among our documents you will discover what the Aire and Calder Navigation Company was saying about itself in the 1930s and how boat and shipbuilders marketed their capabilities in the 1950s. We have the first hand memories of a little girl who went on trips to Hull in the early 20th century and the recollections of a lifetime spent as a bargeman operating between Hull and Selby.

Oral History Recordings

The Society is working on digitising and transcribing over twenty cassette recordings made by waterways historians, enthusiasts and those who worked in the industry.


Film and Video

We are working hard to bring you a number of film and video recordings. These will either have been created from donated sources or we will be pointing at publicly available recordings on YouTube.


Image quality

It is important to recognise that we are publishing a collection of photographs which by the time they have found their way into our hands are likely to have been copied multiple times and shared among friends.   What may have originally been a high quality print from an exceptionally well taken glass plate negative has become an ill defined, too dark or too light, cropped reproduction as individual collectors have applied their own preferences to the image. This means that the images found on our website may not be of the highest quality but we believe that it is better that they are published as seen to enable historians to see what life was like for their watermen ancestors.  

If you recognise a photograph and have a better quality image in your own collection please share it so that we can update the version in our gallery. 

 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.


All images held in our galleries are being given descriptions to assist viewers. While we endeavour to ensure that each description is accurate and complete we recognise that mistakes will have been made so you should therefore not rely on our description. 

If you can add to the published description, please let us know and we’ll make a correction. You can contact us using the form at the bottom of this page. 

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!

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