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Pupils help author with Sapperton Canal Tunnel book

By Stroud Life  |  Posted: March 14, 2014

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PUPILS were thrilled as a book all about their village’s namesake canal tunnel rolled off the presses.

A dozen youngsters from Sapperton Primary School who’d helped research “The Building of Sapperton Canal Tunnel” were at the printers in Stroud with the book’s author Graham Hobbs.

The children had a really great time, ex-teacher Mr Hobbs, 61, from Chalford Hill, said.

“The kids loved it,” he said.

Production of the book, for the charitable Cotswold Canals Trust, involved the Sapperton pupils in site visits to the tunnel.

They also handled 18th century documents at the Gloucester Archives where, aided by staff, they read from actual copies of The Citizen’s forerunner The Gloucester Journal from the 1780s.

Mr Hobbs said the pupils also tallied figures from parish records of around 1789 when the first boat went through the Sapperton Tunnel.

“They searched other books and even personal letters. “The book has tried to use original and usually unpublished materials so the pupils sometimes appear in the pictures holding these items,” Mr Hobbs said.

“After one visit a child wrote to the Gloucester Archives to say “it was the best day of my life,” he said.

A team of adults contributed to the book as well.

Mr Hobbs said they came up with old photos and anecdotes that he wove into the written information that was uncovered.

“The process then came ot a climax on Thursday afternoon (mar 13) when pupils from the school went to Stroud Print to watch their book come off the print line,” he said.

Sapperton Canal Tunnel, which is now impassable, was last used by a commercial boat in 1911.

Although the Cotswold Canals Trust, which is currently restoring waterways through the Stroud Valleys, aims one day to also re-open the tunnel.

Sapperton schoolchildren first hit the headlines with a book in 1986 when they helped produce “Village Heritage” written by their then headteacher Miss Pinnel.

Next they repeated the achievement in 1990 with “Village Camera” and now the next generation have worked on a the third book about the tunnel which is available from the Cotswold Canals Trust.

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