Chantelle's comic book capers

July 2017 - North West Waterways Manager Chantelle Seaborn and the recently revived Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership have come up with their latest response to the runaway success of Colin Ogden and his 1,000 strong Owd Lanky Boaters Group, as Peter Underwood reports.

Following on from spending thousands on appointing a public relations consultant at hundreds of pounds a day and then recycling a plan for a walking route along the Lancaster Canal the latest spiffing wheeze from Chantelle and her merry band is ….. a comic book.

Whilst Colin Ogden is proposing restoration of the Tewitfield locks, constantly recruiting more support for his restoration group and actually restoring old bridges on the Northern Reaches, the grouping of 'official' bodies supposed to be doing something about getting the Lancaster Canal restored is spending £15,000 on a 'walking' comic book.

The former British Waterways PR, now hired as a consultant to the Partnership, Lynn Pegler, of Pegler Communications, boasts that: “ The Lancaster Canal is to be the focus for the world’s first canal comic book, capturing people and places along a 27 mile route from Kendal to Lancaster”.

A £15,000 grant from Arts Council England, is being spent by the Lancaster Canal Regeneration Partnership (LCRP) to commission Manchester artist Oliver East produce a new 50 page comic book, ‘The Lanky’.

The book will be launched at the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival in Kendal in October. The artists will also be working with three primary schools in a number of comic workshops and will be leading two guided walks as part of the festival.

Ms Pegler assures us of his artistic trendiness – apparently he has worked on album covers for Mancunian band ‘Elbow’ and 'has also carved out another distinctive artistic niche with his unique ‘walking comics’ – comic books based on long distance walks'.

We are told anecdotes and historical facts will be reinterpreted in his comic book style to bring to life two centuries of the ‘Black and White Canal’.

Oliver explained: ““The comic’s narrative will interweave different periods of history, looking at life on the canal from the viewpoint of a variety of characters, starting at the grand opening of the canal 200 years ago to the present day. People visiting the Lancaster Canal will recognise scenes in the book from real life, including landmarks such as Hincaster Tunnel and Lune Aqueduct.”

Charities and local authorities making up LCRP include the Canal & River Trust, Cumbria County Council, Inland Waterways Association, Kendal Town Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster Canal Trust, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council. It languished for some years, especially after the Canal & River Trust banned the Lancaster Canal Trust from actually doing any work on the canal after a row over painting milestones.

The Partnership was only revived after Colin Ogden's Owd Lanky Boaters Group started getting masses of publicity and asking why nothing was being done by C&RT and others to restore the Northern Reaches to Kendal.

Partnership chair, the IWA's Audrey Smith said: “We are very grateful to Arts Council England for supporting this exciting project to create a fresh, innovative interpretation of the Lancaster Canal. Comic illustration felt like the perfect way to celebrate and share its vibrant history.

“We are hoping to secure extra funding to extend the comic book further and transpose the project from 2D into 3D. We may also want to reproduce some of the artwork on future canal towpath interpretation panels or perhaps display the comic art on bridges along the trail for an even wider audience to enjoy.”

Equally enthusastic about the artwork is Chantelle Seaborn, the Trust’s North West waterway manager: “This is a wonderful project that will help to put Lancaster on the map and encourage nearby communities and new audiences to discover this historic waterway and wonderful scenery for themselves.”

Photos: (1st) Oliver with LCRP chair Audrey Smith and Canal & River Trust heritage adviser Bill Froggatt. Photo credit: Getty Images, (2nd & 3rd) Oliver East at Lune Aqueduct, Lancaster. Photo credit: Getty Images, (Others) Work in progress – illustrations from the comic book.

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