Adventures of the Hebe
Sailing on Britain's Canals Between the Wars
- Edited by Simon Stoker
15th March 2011
Named after the Greek goddess of youth, the double-sculling skiff Hebe was a most beloved and well-travelled little boat. Adored by the young Desmond Stoker, whose father had fitted her with a sail and canvas cover, she was rowed, sailed and frequently man-hauled along canals and rivers the length and breadth of the country. Holidaying on Britain's canals in the late 1920s was confined mainly to a few eccentrics and enthusiasts, even though much of the canal system was still accessible and operational at that time. Undeterred, Desmond and his father enjoyed long trips on these underappreciated waterways - trips that often extended well over 200 miles and lasted for several weeks. He recorded their exploits on three of these trips - in 1928, 1929 and 1930 - collecting postcards and assorted artefacts along the way while also taking many of his own photographs. These were assembled while he was a medical student at Edinburgh University and the handwritten text, together with the photographs and artefacts, was bound and entitled 'The Book of the Hebe'. It had simply been a family record, but Desmond's son, Simon, has now brought the material to the wider public in order to share his father's charming tales and to delight other readers. Also of historical interest, the observations and photographs in the book document parts of the canal system now long since disappeared, and they provide a fascinating glimpse of innocent leisure and simple pleasures in the calm of the interwar period.