Working boats of the UK Waterways

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Boats in the LMS fleet (Railway interchange)

This list is compiled with the best of intentions but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed with any surety at all. At various points in their lives many of these boats operated as cabinless hulls without identification marks and names may have been attributed from memory, not always accurately. Please take anything post build and gauging dates as a suggestion rather than gospel. 

Name / BCN Gauging number / Further details

Clyde 1996 No 1, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1996. Steel cabin built at Ellesmere Port early 1990's. Re-named FORD; converted; was paired with DRAGON at Ellesmere Port; privately owned. Now at Huxley on the Chester section Shropshire Union Canal.
Antwerp 767 No 710, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 767, 21/11/1923.
Arbutus 783  
Rollo 2046 No 4, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 2046. Re-named ALSAGER. This boat was on BW maintenance Fradley section mid 1970's; now privately owned. Offered for sale 1981 in working trim. Moored at Bulls Bridge 1980's/90's. 1997, sold locally to Bulls Bridge, and is now paired with another Josher stern end plus station boat fore-end; (see unidentified below).
Ross 2050 No 5, open iron boat, BCN gauging 2050. Now the BIRDSWOOD working as a trip boat from Froghall Wharf on the Caldon canal. Re-bottomed and re-footed 1995, also hydraulic engine installation installed in the rudder.
Brussels 778  
Venice 1558 No 7, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1558, 4/2/1930. Length 70ft 0". Now the LINCOLN, recently for sale (July 2000), half converted, and at Greensforge S & W Canal. This boat was on BW maintenance on the Caldon Canal around 1980.
Brier 13977  
Ajax 1501 No 9, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1501, 10/7/1929. At WFB Co for conversion/ renovation July 1985.Converted to a motor boat by Warwickshire Fly Boat Co, and fitted with RN DM2
Budget 20910  
F.J.Honkinson 1425 No 11 , Open iron day boat, BCN gauging 1425, 20/9/1928. Length 69ft 11".
Bride 1827 No 12, cabined iron boat, BCN gauging No 1827, 28/9/1934.Length 70ft 6 ". 

Following information supplied by the owner:- BCN gauge table 1827 (LMS No 12 Bride) dated 28/9/1934 refers back to BCN 14870 of 26/2/1896, this shows the boat name Bride with owner Pickford's, later SUR&CCo.  This table also refers back to an earlier gauging BCN 13558, a table which is missing but can be dated to June 1893.  It is also the only boat in the whole of the surviving BCN gauge tables with the name Bride. Bride can therefore be traced right through from Pickford's to Shropshire Union, LMS, BR (LMR) and Willow Wren and on to private ownership in 1958.  An earlier email (info from HNBOC Archive??) said this had been traced through to the mid 1980s.  Then in late 1980s we have a claim that a Club member owned a Bantock boat named Bride which was modified to fit a motor in 1990, and which appears to be the boat now carrying the BW Index No 51170.  This now looks pretty compelling circumstantial evidence that LMS Bride and BW51170 are probably the same boat

Other Photos

B 12784  
Dart 1998 No 14, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1998, thought to be the EXETER.
Councellor 1076 cabined wooden day boat, BCN gauging No 1076, 14/8/1925. Possibly named COUNCILLOR
Crete 1430 No 16, open iron boat, BCN gauging 1430, 27/9/1928. Length 69ft 11". Converted to a motor boat 1974/75. Had a rough stern on her was taken to Birchills '86 had new stern fitted not long after. Sank at Walsall when owners son ran a bilge pump pipe out through the weed hatch but forgot to take it back in when he turned the pump off!! Same person now owns a radio controlled model of CRETE. (No weedhatch)
Beck 1515 No 17, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1515, 31/7/1929. Length 70ft 0". Offered for sale Sept 1981 by M.E.Braine. Converted to motorboat by M.E.Braine, in 1983. Full length steel cabin, with Lister JP2 and now up the Brinklow arm, Northern Oxford.
Seville 1597 No 18, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1597, 9/5/1930. Length 70ft 0". Extant 1999.
Carp 19965  
Cyclops 1989 No 20, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1989.
Czar 1742 No 21, cabined iron boat, BCN gauging No 1742, 28/9/1932. Length 71ft 2".
Rhine 2002 No 22, open iron boat, BCN gauging 2002.Built in 1937 for London Midland & Scottish Railway Company by W J Yarwood & Sons of Northwich. It was then known as Rhine, Fleet Number 22. In this period it was an open boat, i.e. without any cabin, and was used for the movement of cargoes between canalside premises in the Birmingham area and railway interchange basins for onward transport by train; hence the name ‘Railway’ or ‘Station’ boats. On nationalisation of the railways, 1st January 1948, it was transferred into the ownership of British Railways (London Midland Region). Following the nationalisation of the canals at the same time, British Waterways decided that in the North West region it would be more efficient for boats to work in pairs rather than as single motor boats which had been the practice previously. Although this increased journey times, more cargo could be carried. However, there was a shortage of butties (unpowered boats which are towed by motors) to fulfill this policy. By the mid-1950s, British Railways had ceased their canal carrying activities and their boats were transferred to British Waterways’ ownership. 12 of the Railway boats were converted to butties by fitting traditional cabins; some at Stone, others at Stoke-on-Trent. A distinctive feature of these boats were their high cabins, to compensate for their relatively shallow hulls. Rhine was one of these 12 boats, and following conversion (at Anderton Company’s dock at Stoke-on-Trent) was renamed “Ditton”. Clearly this work was done as cheaply as possible; some of the original cabin work which still survived when purchased by the present owners was made from broken up packing cases! Ditton was often paired with the Josher motor Cypress, and later with the Admiral class motor MOUNTBATTEN. When carrying ceased, the boat was left lying at Northwich and eventually purchased in a derelict condition by Threefellows Carrying Company. They fitted it out as a ‘camping’ boat and paired it with the Josher motor Apple. Later, it was left lying at Sawley for a number of years, becoming derelict once more. Ditton was then purchased by the present owners on 8th March 1993, and has since been extensively restored, including a new steel bottom and wooden cabin. .
Raye 2055 No 23, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 2055. Now the CREWE. For sale as CREWE in 1975, part converted. Counter stern motorised, privately owned on the BCN at Sneyd.
Dane 20536  
Edris 2141  
Eventful 1102 No 26, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 1102, 8/10/1925.
Elm 20794  
Edger 20916  
Gleaner 15761  
Governor 20238  
Gainsborough 1970 No information currently on the Yarwoods GAINSBOROUGH. LMS No 32 is listed in the BCN register as an open wooden boat, named GAINSBOROUGH, late 21220, both plates missing. Gauged on 14/7/1937. Length 68ft 10". BCN gauging No 1970.
Havana 16243  
Hound 1432 No 35, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1432, 9/10/1928. Length 70ft 1".
Ham 1431 No 36, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1431, 9/10/1928. Length 70ft 1".Was possibly named HARE
Tebay 1525 No 37, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1525, 8/10/1929. Length 70ft 0". Converted to a motorboat and now privately owned, Shropshire. Latest info is that TEBAY is a 52ft tug owned by KW of Vintage marine engine club.
Holibleen 2241  
Harrison 15212  
Imperator 766 No 40, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 766, 21/11/1923.
Delhi 1606 No 41, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1606, 29/5/1930. Length 69ft 11".LMS owned and worked until December 1959 when B.W. cut her in half at Gloucester and used the fore end to make a 40ft hire boat WATER VIPER which she worked as until 1969 she was sold into private ownership and with the same family till 2001 when Jason McCabe got her. Now CHARIENE based at Marsworth and in time will have a new stern end.
Jasper 20171  
Dora 1567 No 43, cabined iron boat, Registered at Wolverhampton No. 1137, BCN gauging No 1567, 12/3/1930. Length 70ft 4".
Finch 1529 No 44, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1529, 8/11/1929. Length 70ft 1". At WFB Co July 1985 for renovation /conversion. Shortened to 48ft motor boat, engine 12hp Petter Semi diesel. Based at Bulbourne. Other half is extant.
Leige (Liege) 22345  
Lille 22249  
Lily 2107  
Mull 1434 No 48, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1434, 16/10/1928. Length 69ft 11".
Lisbon 1550 No 49, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1550, 16/1/1930. Length 70ft 1". Now the ELLESMERE working as a hotel boat for Rushbrooke Narrowboats, Warwick.
Mecca 1435 No 50, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1435, 16/10/1928. Length 69ft 11". Towed from Marple locks to the National Trust yard at Lapworth in the mid 1970's. Used on the Stratford on Avon Canal as a workboat by Waterways Recovery Group East Anglia, and was loaded with sheet piles. At that time the LMS owners plate was kicking around in the bilges! The plate was saved, and is now re-united with the boat after being on a window sill for 20 years. Sold by BW from the Stratford canal in 1990; converted to a 60ft motorboat by Five Towns Boatbuilding. Lengthened to 70ft in 1996. Engine Lister HB3. At Middlewich rally in June 2k.  BCN Photos
Manchuria 1442 No 51, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1442, 14/11/1928. Length 70ft 2". Replaced an earlier boat of the same name. Towed with MECCA from Marple to Lapworth mid 1970's. Used as a mud hopper on the Peak Forest restoration. Offered for sale as an open hull by WFB Co Jan 1995. Currently (Sept 2000) for sale as a 70ft motorboat at Warwickshire Fly Boat Co.
Mallard 21375  
May  1443 No 53, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1443, 14/11/1928. Length 70ft 0". For most of her working life, ‘May’ worked between the canal and railway interchange basins.  Much of May’s activity centred around factories, wharves and trans-shipment depots on the Birmingham Canal Navigations where the open ‘station boats’ were towed around with tugs, often also owned by LMS. Station boats had no cabins, unlike some ‘Joey’ boats engaged in local traffic, so they tended to remain more local to the area. Twenty years later, in 1948, on nationalisation of the railways, May came under B.R. (L.M.R.) ownership and then, in 1954, she transferred to British Transport Commission (British Transport Waterways) when they took responsibility for the inland waterways and the waterways ports. In 1963 she was transferred to British Waterways and operated as a maintenance boat based at Norbury Junction, Staffs until 1982. May was placed in the boat weighbridge in 1989.  She rests directly on a cradle and has a ‘cargo’ of three empty rusting 45 gallon drums and a few scaffold poles. Was or still is in the weighing machine at Stoke Bruerne.
Molly 20744  
Naples 1556 No 56, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1556, 19/1/1930. Length 70ft 0". Now the KIDSGROVE, was at Caggy's basin, Tipton in May '99. Sold recently. Also known as BRENDA.
Octan (Ocean) 1450 No 57, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1450, 5/12/1928. Length 70ft 0". Extant 1999, 60ft converted boat, at Springwell on the GU.
Peru 1449 No 58, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1449, 5/12/1928. Length 70ft 2".
No. 59 1213 open wooden day boat, BCN gauging No 1213, 18/10/1926. known as No.59
Pleiades 884 No 597, Cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 884, 18/7/1924.
Caleb 1541 No 61, cabined iron boat, Registered at Wolverhampton No. 1134, BCN gauging No 1541, 17/12/1929. Length 70ft 3".Became Willow Wren HERON. For sale May 1981. Currently a houseboat in Oxford.
Pansy 15055  
Refuge 670 No 715, cabined wooden day boat, BCN gauging No 670, 4/6/1923.possibly named REFUGEE
Rat 1460 No 65, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1460, 4/1/1929. Length 70ft 2". Extant 1999 as 50ft motorboat.
Raeburn 21594  
Ethelred 1105 No 67, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 1105, 9/10/1925.
Gilbert 1544 No 68, cabined iron boat, Registered at Wolverhampton No 1135, BCN gauging No 1544, length 70ft 2". Extant 2000.
Rill 1461 No 69, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1461, 4/1/1929. Length 70ft 0". Extant 1999. In July 1979 the RILL was found in undergrowth at Pike Bridge, Eastington on the Stroudwater Navigation. Owned by enthusiast in the Banbury area. Other Photos BCN Photos
Roman 888  
Ree 13797  
Rival 1465 No 72, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1465, 4/2/1929. Length 70ft 0". Replaced an earlier boat of the same name. The information on this boat remains uncertain, but this is what we have. Re-named the IRLAM, and was at Middlewich around 1978 in kit form. The fore-end could be seen stacked high above the buildings opposite Willow Wren Kearns. It was rebuilt as a 60ft motor on the offside between the locks at Middlewich, re-named PARAGON, as the owner came from Hull. I personally can remember the boat being launched in 1979. See WW Feb 1996 for more information. PARAGON is currently moored outside the pump house at Sutton stop. An advert in WW Nov 1989 lists RIVAL currently in two halves for sale, (this boat we are assured is the RIVAL, so the above may not be the RIVAL after all.). The two halves came about by BW requiring a working platform for bridge work, so 2 x 35 ft boats were made from one. BW sold the boat halves to Pochin's, (contractors) who used them for some time, and then craned them out into their yard at Middlewich. They then moved on to the Colliery Narrowboat Co, and later still to Mr R Lorenz of Manchester where the halves were advertised in WW. They were purchased by enthusiasts and moved to David Jones's yard at Chester, where the fore-end still remains. The stern has since moved on.
Saxon 1557 No 73, open iron boat, BCN gauging 1557. Length 70ft 0". Extant 2000, now the JESMOND as a 70ft motor boat,( Lister SR2, wooden cabin in 1983).
Olive 1609 No 74, cabined iron boat, Registered at Wolverhampton No 1138, BCN gauging No 1609, 12/6/1930. Length 70ft 4". Extant Other Photos
Norah 1691 No 76, cabined iron boat, Registered at W'Ton No 1139, BCN gauging No 1691, 2/9/1931. Length 70ft0". Still in BW maintenance fleet, based Bradley as a mud hopper.
Syphon 870 No 78, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 870, 20/6/1924.
Smiler 911 No 79, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 911, 8/9/1924. possibly named SMILE
Symbol 771 No 698, cabined wooden horseboat, BCN gauging No 771, 3/12/1923. Undergoing restoration.
Horace 1562 No 81, cabined iron boat, Reg'd at W'ton No 1136, BCN gauging No 1562, length 70ft 2".
Sincerety 21956  
Sir. A. Murray 22477  
Sir H. Smith-Dorrien 773 No 750, open day boat, BCN gauging No 773, 7/12/1923.
Speck 1466 No 86, open iron day boat, BCN gauging No 1466, 4/2/1929. Length 70ft 3". Offered for sale Dec 81. Back cabin new 1979, with 3ft extension. Was paired with HYPERION late 1970's, and based at Middlewich.
Sun 13989  
Surley 21868  
Serf 14170  
Sardine 1697 No 90, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1697, 21/9/1931. Length 69ft 8".
Ted 1483 No 91, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1483, 30/4/1929. Length 70ft 0".
Tom 1493 No 92, open iron boat, BCN gauging No 1493, 4/8/1929. Length 70ft 0".
Torpedo 22342  
Vulcan 15415  
Weldon 19976  
Wren 13982  
X 15772  
Zeppelin 22347  
Hogarth 1106  
Saturn 1103  

L.M.S. owned Yarwoods built STATION BOATS.

1928 F.J.HANKINSON 11 1425
1928 CRETE 16 1430
1928 HOUND 35 1432
1928 HARE 36 1431
1928 MULL 48 1434
1928 MECCA 50 1435
1928 MANCHURIA 51 1442
1928 MAY 53 1443
1928 OCEAN 57 1450
1928 PERU 58 1449
1928 RAT 65 1460
1928 RILL 69 1461
1929 RIVAL 72 1465
1929 SPECK 86 1466
1929 TED 91 1483
1929 TOM 92 1493
1929 AJAX 9 1501
1929 BECK 17 1515
1929 TEBAY 37 1525
1929 FINCH 44 1529
1929 LISBON 49 1550
1930 NAPLES 56 1556
1930 SAXON 73 1557
1930 VENICE 7 1558
1930 SEVILLE 18 1597
1930 DELHI 41 1606
1929 CALEB 61 1541
1929 GILBERT 68 1544
1930 HORACE 81 1562
1930 DORA 43 1567
1930 OLIVE 74 1609
1930 NORAH 76 1691
1930 BRIDE 12 1827
1930 CYCLOPS 20 1989
1930 CZAR 21 1742
1930 GAINSBOROUGH No details available. No details available.
1930 SARDINE 90 1697
1930 No details available. No details available No details available
1937 CLYDE 1 1996
1937 DART 14 1998
1938 RHINE 22 2002
1938 ROLLO 4 2046
1938 ROSS 5 2050
1938 RAYE 23 2055


The 12 boats converted at Stone for the BW North west division carrying fleet to make up for a lack of butties were re-named as follows;


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