Journalist, author, photographer and campaigner for the inland waterways
IWA Stoke on Trent branch member, Harry Arnold was awarded an MBE in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for the significant role he played in Britain’s inland waterways scene for almost 50 years. His name is well known in the waterways world as a photographer and as a writer - recording the changing places, craft and people of the waterways since the late 1950’s.
He is also widely respected for his voluntary involvement in a broad range of aspects of the inland waterways, where he excels in his dedication and commitment, combined with enthusiasm, vision, knowledge and tenacity, to record, conserve, restore and promote the heritage of Britain’s inland waterways system – history, structures, craft, traditional skills and way of life.
In a voluntary capacity Harry has served in numerous roles; as a chairman, newsletter editor, vice president, publicity officer and other roles with a range of different waterways charities, organisations and project / event teams over a sustained period of over 40 years. These charities range from the local and regional, through areas of particular specialism, to the national charity, The Inland Waterways Association, of which he became a Vice President in 2008.
He has delivered all manner of campaigns, events and permanent and ongoing outcomes such as museums, restored heritage structures and craft and education initiatives – without which, Britain’s inland waterways would not be such a rich, vibrant network, supporting and enriching communities and contributing to the UK economy.
He is one of very few people who have combined this level of voluntary activity with a professional involvement in the waterways, as a journalist and photographer. As an author, historian, editor and publisher Harry has been produced many waterway publications read by millions world-wide and to date has written two books, The Montgomery Canal and The Llangollen Canal, more are in production. Harry has a specialist knowledge of boats, canals, rivers, civil engineering and the marine industry and regularly acts as a waterways/boating consultant and contributor to publications, broadcasts and video productions for the BBC and independent production companies, whilst also making this knowledge and his photographs freely available to voluntary causes.
And in turn, his sharing of information and making introductions and connections about waterways matters has inspired, enthused and assisted others in their conservation and development of Britain’s inland waterways network – at all levels: giving illustrated presentations for waterway campaign groups where his archive of images and anecdotes attract the public to become supporters of these causes, openly supporting campaigners who consult him for historic or technical details about to their waterway project or regeneration scheme, and providing expert consultation to navigation authorities such as British Waterways.
Harry and his family follow a waterways way of life; since 1968 he has lived and works by the Trent & Mersey Canal at Alrewas, near Lichfield. Born in Warrington in Cheshire, for the first 21 years of his life Harry lived between the Manchester Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal – before he and his young family moved to Staffordshire, initially to work and live beside the Shropshire Union Canal at Norbury Junction.
Waterways run in the family. One of Harry's grandfathers worked on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal and a great-grandfather was skipper of a Mersey Sailing Flat, and subsequently motor barges trading on the waterways of Merseyside and the Irish Sea. Harry & his wife Beryl (a nurse specialising in Hospice work) spent their early holidays together cycling and boating, exploring canals and befriending some of the last working boat crews – before they moved to Staffordshire to work in the emerging leisure boat industry. Today daughter Julie lives and works in the Staffordshire Moorlands, where she volunteers with the Stoke-on-Trent Branch of The Inland Waterways Association and is Chairman of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, whilst son Mike canoes and scuba dives, and works as a Scenes of Crime Officer with Staffordshire Police.