Maidens' Trip - Book Review

Many years ago on one of my regular library trips with my Dad, I chose a random book which caught my eye - London Pride by Beryl Kingston. It was I think the first book got from the adult section, I remember feeling very grown up to be able to leave the kids area behind along with it's Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High!

London Pride' started me on a love of wartime stories and since then I've read countless different ones, so I was very excited to read 'Maidens' Trip' by Emma Smith. 'A Wartime adventure on the Grand Union Canal'  as I've spent time on the Grand Union myself.

Maidens' Trip is the memoir of Emma, who in 1943 at the age of 18 left her middle class background and joined the Grand Union Canal Carrying company under their wartime scheme of employing women to replace the boaters.

They very quickly learn, by necessity how to handle a pair of 72 foot long boats, while carrying a cargo of steel from London to Birmingham, and coal from Coventry.  Before they know it they are splicing ropes, bailing out bilge water and working their fingers to the bone.As the weeks go by they get tougher and dirtier whilst laughing and quarrelling throughout it all.

I found the book a real enjoyable read having been there myself, albeit in a much more leisurely situation!  I loved spending time on the boats, and it brought back lots of happy memories.

It made me wonder what I would might have done if I was of an age back then. Spending the war on the canal was a world away from 'real life', news did not often reach the girls and the boaters and they were also largely unaffected by events unfolding. It sounds like an ideal place to assist in essential war work but I'm not sure I would have been able to cope with the hard work that would have entailed.  I know how exhausted I've been after a few days on the boat - not even doing a fraction of the work those girls would have or at the same sort of pace!

I was sent this book by Bloomsbury Publishing for the purpose of this review, the opinions are all my own.


  1. Definitely sounds like my kind of book.


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