History - David Vause
David Vause, canal enthusiast and boat builder
As a musician himself, he liked to work to the accompaniment of classical music, naming the punts that he built in the Old Stables after favourite pieces, e.g. 'Fennimore' and 'Tristan and Isolde', and hired them out on the canal, either propelled by a pole in the traditional manner or powered by a small motor.
David's son Louis remembers helping his dad fish rubbish out of the canal and retrieve punts that had been abandoned along the canal. Louis grew up on the canal with his siblings and witnessed its transformation from an overgrown rubbish-strewn backwater to a revitalised waterway.
Tragically, David contracted MS but continued to work on his punts from a wheelchair. He died in 1996, and the Lancaster Guardian for 31 May that year celebrated his achievements as follows:
The canal network was largely ignored in the 1960s and the council rejected Mr. Vause's plans so he decided to fund the work himself. He paid the council to take lorry loads of rubbish which he and his family fished out the canal. He unblocked the drains, cleared the towpath of water, cut back the undergrowth, laid gravel from Penny Street Bridge to Aldcliffe Road, cleared the cobbles, restored the buildings and built 17 punts, an off‑licence and shop.
(With grateful acknowledgments to Simone Vause)
History pages by Jane Swan