Ramlin Rose: The Boatwoman's Story - Sheila Stewart
Banburyshire Family History

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Sheila Stewart

It is a semi-fictional biography of a girl in a canal family on the Oxford Canal in the first half of the 20th Century. Poignant in places, it begins: "The day the mule fell in the Cut I knew I was born ... "

As I recall (having read the book a couple of years ago) Ramlin Rose is not an individual but a composite compiled from stories gleaned from a number of individuals. But it's a good portrayal of canal life in Banbury during the early years of the 20th century. A must for anyone with relatives on the canal or associated work. And very interesting just from the social / local history perspective.

Will happily add more when I get back to Solihull and my books - right now I'm "enjoying" a very grey, cold, and wet, Plymouth. And having spent November in India I'd be very tempted to catch the first available flight back - if it were not for Ramlin Rose.

Review by John Plester

"Ramlin Rose" is an absorbing story and Sheila Stewart is to becommended in the way she used the information gleaned from her often inarticulate subjects. She explains her approach and why.

I found it tugged my heart strings as the raw reality of their rather grim existence comes through. The tragedies strike home. My interest, connection and proximity to canals in my earlier life. (yes, like a cat I have more than one --- or so it seems on reflection), brought this book vividly to life.

The piece I loved best was when Rose found out her husband's real name when they had to register at the beginning of the war! Without the book I can't be sure, but wasn't Syer Ramlin ---- Josiah Rampling? It brings home the fact that the boat people had a dialect of their own. And perforce, with long lonely days and lack of schooling, conversation was sparse. Anyway, you can hardly converse with the tiller!

Review by Muriel Wells

ISBN 0-19-285302-3