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Archway School

The Canal

It is the 18th century and I walk beside the canal. Maybe I am a farmer on my way to Stroud’s red-clothed fields to work for the day.

Maybe I am a weaver on my way to collect processed wool from a nearby mill. Maybe I am a travelling merchant taking in the sights before returning from Walbridge with my boat laden with Stroud cloth. No matter who I am, the sun shines down on the hills and the trees and the town. Soft plumes of smoke drift gently from the houses. In the distance, sheep can be heard; in the immediate vicinity, two men can be heard guiding a barge along the canal, ripples dashing the glassy mirror of the water. It is not precisely tranquil, the hustle and bustle of an industrial market town does not truly allow for tranquillity, but it is peaceful in the way only a country town can be. The houses may be fairly uniform, but they are made from the same stone as the hills. The canal may be man-made, but it winds like a natural river would. The people may sell to factories and cities, but they live and work on the hillside. It is the 18th century, and the canal ties the town to the hills.

It is the 21st century and I walk beside the canal. I am a student with semi-certain plans for the future. The canal does not feature in any, but it is still here. Along ancient paths and amongst the edge-lands, but still here. The sun is bright, for once, but it is winter and the clear sky just makes things colder. Although the road is out of view, it is nearby and cars can be clearly heard. Even so, it is peaceful. A pocket of trees and solitude tucked away with the canal. I am sure that at one point these banks must have been clear, but now the nettles and plants I cannot name seem moments away from the perfectly still water. If I walk further on I can catch glimpses of the hills through the buildings and the trees. They always look so untouched—Selsley Common in one direction and Rodborough in the other, a shimmering green under the sun- but I must look through the chimneys of old factories to see them. The houses I pass are varied, built at different times with brick and stone and occasionally concrete. From the road I can barely see the canal it is so hidden by the edge-land trees that blend between the urban and nature. From the railway bridge, the view is gorgeous. Vibrant colours as far as the eye can see, houses and trees and that endless blue sky, but though I can see the common and the far-off hills, the canal is nowhere in sight. It is the 21st Century and the canal is tucked out of sight.

- by Topaz, Y13 student