From the archive:

This short audio piece was made last year (working with Dr Hilary Marland from the the Centre for the History of Medicine) as something to be listened to whilst walking the towpath. Not the cheeriest subject matter, but interesting – and it features a nice little bit of singing from our friend Jake Oldershaw.

Pole Vault : an 11 minute downloadable audio walk, to listen to whilst walking along a canal towpath [click to download].

The roots of the Olympic sport of the Pole Vault reach back many centuries when obstacles, or more commonly canals or other stretches of water, were traversed using a pole.

Canals have a complex and sometimes dark history as places where desperate people attempted to take their own lives. One such case was that of Elizabeth Barnwell, who was suffering from ‘puerperal mania’, a severe form of postnatal mental illness. This audio walk tells her story.

With:
Professor Hilary Marland from the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick (interviewed by Nick Walker)
Roland Mackie – Canal Ranger for Coventry Council (interviewed by Anne Forgan)
Jake Oldershaw singing the Boatman
Derek Nisbet – Violin

Song lyrics: Nick Walker
Music, Sound Design and editing by Derek Nisbet

[Pole Vault was one of Talking Birds’ Decathlon artworks, marking the company’s 20th year.]