About 15 years ago (2002) the late Joe Green of this village asked me to undertake research into his claim that he witnessed the passage of a mini submarine on the river Aire somewhere in Methley .
I did make some in depth enquiries at the time but I was unable to confirm such a journey. Joe always furthered the subject when we met, I suspect to overcome the disbelief of his claim by some of his tap room cynics, but again, no luck with the enquiries. He was however, able to tell me that it was called the ‘Sprat’.
Enquiries did reveal that there had been some five such vessels tied up in Hull docks in the 1950’s but no report of any inland waterway journeys.
In September this year (2017) quite by chance in Normanton library I came across the attached photograph in a book covering local canals where it was reported that the vessel was en route from Wakefield to Leeds and navigated on the surface of the canal for clearance purposes. The book was unable to confirm the date.
At this stage a conversation with Vera Garland at the weekly Archives gathering enabled me to call Joe’s daughter Joan in Lofthouse and relate the find to her. Joan was able to add more to the story claiming that as a young girl she also saw the vessel along with her father and others from the village watching it negotiating Kippax Locks.
Joan also added that the Rothwell Record had since reported the story and offered to provide me with a copy of their coverage.
Sorry Joe it’s all a bit late!