On Wednesday September 4th, filming took place with passenger boat Vixen and Bilbo on the Rochdale Canal. For a Channel 4 TV programme, actorsTimothy West and Prunella Scales were travelling along the Rochdale Canal from its start at Sowerby Bridge to meet and interview people en route. Bilbo towed the boat to the location chosen by the TV crew at Black Pit Lock in Hebden Bridge. Eventually a phone call came to say the film crew would be late. This was OK as Bilbo was enjoying grass in the local park and the weather was pleasant.
When they arrived, Bilbo was ready for them, harnessed to pull the boat. To our disappointment, the film crew said they were running too late to film the boat horse-drawn which made little sense to us as it would have taken one minute to set the boat moving towards the lock for a quick shot of the boat being horse-drawn.
There was an interview between Timothy West and Sue Day and Adrian Lovett, and a visit to Bilbo tied at the lock-side and the boat on the aqueduct. Prunella gave Bilbo a kiss on his nose and she was assured that Bilbo received plenty of kisses from Sue! Timothy referred to the past, that two boats would have been common. Sue Day agreed that horses did pull two narrowboats at a time on the Rochdale but widebeam boats were very usual. Only later on reflection did the crew realize that Timothy probably was thinking of a narrow motorboat and butty. Sadly the narrow motorboat and butty has dominated the minds of most people today, and the arduous work of horses pulling two loaded narrowboats or a loaded widebeam boat is often overlooked. On the Rochdale Canal horses pulled widebeam boats from 1804 to the canal closure about 1950.