Working boats of the UK Waterways

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 The chemical company, COWBURN and COWPER Ltd. was based in Manchester and used narrow boats to transport liquids, such as hydrogen disulphide. Originally, carboys were used to contain the liquids, but in later years, tanks were fitted in the boats.

Between 1933 and 1936, eight new motor boats were built by Yarwoods, all named after birds with the first letter being 'S'. The first two were of composite construction, but the rest were all of steel with an unusual rounded bilge. The fore end was similar to that of the boats built by the same company for Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd., but another unusual feature was the pointed shape of the counter. All eight boats still survive today, and one of them, SWAN, was featured in John Lileys book; 'Journeys of the Swan'.

Miscellaneous Companies

Motor or Butty / Name / Company / Other Information / Registered details / Gauging details / Other information


M SWAN COWBURN & COWPER P.S MAN 1115   unconverted. 5/92. now based London carried chemicals for W H COWBURN & COWPER between 1933 and 1956. Later she carried coal for G Waddington between 1956 and 1964. Owned by same person for many years. Other Photos
M STORK " " " MAN 1123   She was built by W.J. Yarwood & Sons Ltd. of Northwich and was launched on 10 March 1934 as yard number 444. Her hull is made of riveted steel. She has a round bilge, with a pointed bow and a raked curved stem and counter stern.

STORK carried chemicals in carboys until 1951, but is now preserved with her hold clothed up and is used as an exhibit and for pleasure.

Over the last fifteen years, STORK has undergone considerable restoration. A complete re-fit was carried out after she was sold in 1982 and this included building a new boatman's cabin. The existing steel engine room bulkheads were retained. Further work is planned on the interior, as is the renewal of steel plating to the round bilges.

Her current engine is the original single cylinder, two stroke, hot bulb diesel, which is started by a blowlamp and a brass reacting pin in the flywheel. It gives 12.6 brake horsepower at 475rpm through a Ferry gearbox and is controlled either in the engine room or from the steering position. She has a hundred gallon diesel tank with a ten gallon feed tank mounted over the top. It is believed that only three of these engines have survived on British waterways and these are installed in STORK, SWAN and SKYLARK.

Based Lymm STORK

Since the above information was received STORK has had a conversion fitted to her hold 

Other Photos

M SWIFT " " " MAN 1119   BW renamed APOLLO. Is now SWIFT again based at Bradley used by Waterways for demonstrations and shows.


M SKYLARK " " " MAN 1128   Gardner 4 VT engine still installed in 1978. part converted. 2/00

SKYLARK Other Photos

M SNIPE " " R.S MAN 1137   was hotel boat now converted based on Oxford canal
M STARLING " " " MAN 1138   Her hull is made of riveted steel. Her current engine is a Lister HR2 diesel, with two cylinders and twenty-one horsepower, made in 1958. She was commissioned by W. H. COWBURN & COWPER Ltd. of Manchester as their eighth and last narrow boat and built to a unique design for carrying carbon disulphide in tanks from Trafford Park, Manchester, to Courtaulds at Coventry. The tanks were never fitted. In 1951, she was sold to William Pritchard, trading as Meteor Mineral Mill, Etruria Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, and began work carrying limestone to the potteries. Three years later, she was bought by Joe Prescott of Butts Basin, Leigh, who used her as a 'trip' boat in the summer, carrying cargo to Runcorn and Altringham in the winter. In 1961, STARLING was purchased by Sam Morral who cut the boat in two and shortened her to forty feet Mid section used in boat known as LOUISE JANE. She was then used as one of the first hire boats on the waterways in 1962. In 1981, she was sold to D. King who modified her into a narrow boat tug with a Seffles semi-diesel engine of historic interest. She was found by the present owner in 1995 and brought by canal and lorry to Stafford. She underwent restoration to return her to her original length and was re-launched on 26 October 1997. still carrying based Knighton SU canal STARLING Starling Other Photos
M SEAGULL " " P.S MAN 1131   Called MORAG during early 1960s. Renamed SEAGULL in late 1970s. Owned by same person for many years. Engine changes: 1960s - 2 cyl Hercules. , 1992 - Lister HRW 2. based Aylesbury arm Other Photos
M SWALLOW " " " MAN 1121   Was Manchester Ship Canal Co. ( Bridgewater Dept.) 's Work Tug No.3. in 1948, becoming Mud Boat No 3 (M.B No 3) after the engine was removed. Renamed SWALLOW in 1980s and National 2 DM engine installed. Much restored. purchased 1951 .uncon.2/92 SWALLOW Swallow Other Photos
M ARCTURUS OVALTINE (A.Wander) Ent Fleet 8/42 RICK 28 reg date


Ex GUCC All boats in the Ovaltine fleet were built at Walkers, Rickmansworth. GUCC A-H
M MIMAS " " 9/43 RICK 46 10/43 Ex GUCC G12442 Sold to Willow wren 1959 renamed EGRET
B RAY " " 1/41 RICK 61 1/41 Ex HEBE GUCC. G12481 Converted for Sale. 9/90 Other Photos
B HECTOR " " 8/42 RICK 51 8/42 Ex GUCC G12470
M ALBERT " " 12/25 BRENT 446 1/26 Became PEARL HYDE after leaving the fleet and spent time as a community boat with the governing organisation. Completely restored and now a restaurant at Rickmansworth, with hold like eating area. Other Photos
M WILLIAM " " 10/29 RICK 26 12/29 Ex GUCC G 12323(sent by P. Hunter)- I had the converted ex-Ovaltine motor William (formerly with Beauchamp Lodge at Little Venice) for which I paid �1000 and it was ready to go! However there was a lot of rot in it and I sold it when I became a student in 1979 (now that was a long time ago) for �3000. Subsequent owners did it up cosmetically, perhaps putting the odd straight plank in, and it eventually sold for about �8000 in the late 1980s. Although I had sold it at Uxbridge it arrived in Oxford as if coming to haunt me. I last saw it out of the water just north of Oxford where the new-age owners were attempting to rebuild it. Unfortunately they split up and the boat was subsequently broken up although I believe Jem Bates on the Aylesbury arm has some of the bits in a shed so I suppose it could be "restored" a la Raymond!
B ENID " " 1/41 RICK 45 2/41 Ex GUCC. G12408 URSA. Sold to Willow Wren 1959 renamed COOT. 5/88 Colours of the Cut
M HARRY " "  4/26 RICK 1 4/26 Sold to Gordon Waddington 1950 renamed JOYCE.
M CECIL " " 1/41 RICK 54 2/41 x. GUCC. G 12537 GRUS paired with ENID in WANDERS fleet Cabin built by Malcolm Braine was camper 72 - 80 80-96 in private ownership Extensive partial restoration was carried out by Martin Cox, boat builder, during this time which accounts largely for Almighty's (GRUS / CECIL) survival and relatively good condition. Website
B CATHERINE " " 10/27 RICK 8 10/27  
M CHARLES " " 8/28 RICK 13 8/28 Sold to Gordon Waddington 1952 renamed GALATEA
B ELIZABETH " " 1/28 RICK 10 1/28 Converted to houseboat
B ELIZABETH ANNE " " 4/28 RICK 12 4/28 Converted to houseboat
M GEORGE " " 10/27 RICK 7 10/27  
B GEORGETTE " " 12/26 BREN 447 1/27 Scrapped Bushells Tring '45
B GERTRUDE " " 4/27 RICK 4 6/27  
M JAMES " " 1/28 RICK 9 1/28  
M JIMMY " " 1/41 RICK 60 1/41 Sold to A Harvey Taylor 1951
B LILY " " 4/26 RICK 2 4/26  
M PERCY " " 4/27 RICK 3 6/27  
B POLLY " " 12/29 RICK 18 12/29 Converted to houseboat
B SUSIE " " 8/28 RICK 14 8/28  
M THOMAS " " 4/26 RICK 17 4/28 Scrapped 1950
M STANTON Blue Line   COV 536   ex GUCC
B BELMONT " "   BREN 595   ex GUCC
B LUCY " "   DAV 548   ex S.Barlow and J.Knill. see S. Barlow list for further details
B CRESSY S.U.R.&C. Co.       LTC Rolt's famous boat.
B ELECTOR " " 626 CHEST 637   .11/87
B WILDEN " " 382 CHEST 617   .1/88
B LORNA " " 350 CHEST    
B BROCKLEBANK " " 482 CHEST 337   .4/89
B CHEOPS " "       .4/89
B IRENE " "   CHEST 582   .4/89
B SATURN " "   CHEST 630   BCN 1103 on 9. 10. 1925. hb.fs.10/91. now restored and visiting rallies and shows as a floating exhibit.  SATURN
B CLARA " "       converted fs.8/91 At Cropredy on the Oxford Canal. All for sale, contact Ian Staples 01295 758 438.
B SYMBOL " "   CHEST   Destroyed due to lack of funds.
B PARIS " "        
T LEADER " "   CHEST 502    


ILK 53

  'Broken up' [presume pre 1946 when register finished]
B HARRIET "    "  

ILK 55

  name of owner and master altered 
27 July 1906 when new cert sent  
to Gotham Co Ltd Broken up 24-10-24 
Mr Trevithick - Lenton
M CYPRUS/ESS EREWASH 509 LOUGH 63   her current engine is a four stroke diesel. Originally, her engine would have been a two cylinder Russell Newbury, with 18 horsepower. She was built for the Erewash Canal Carrying Company, as a subsidiary of the Grand Union Canal Company. Her name should have been CYPRESS, as the four boats of this type were named after trees. They were identical to the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Ltd. Star class, except for the fact that they were one foot shorter to facilitate the passage of pairs of boats through the short locks on the River Stour. After nationalisation in 1948, CYPRUS was kept at the Bulls Bridge Depot and used for Depot purposes unconverted paired with CEDAR CYPRUS  Cyprus Other Photos
B CEDAR EREWASH   LOUGH 64   She was built as the butty to CYPRUS for the Erewash Canal Carrying Company; a subsidiary of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company Ltd. (GUCCCL). She was identical to the GUCCCL Star class except that she was one foot shorter to facilitate the passage of pairs of boats through the short locks on the River Stour. She was used principally on the Erewash Canal, the River Stour, the Leicester line and the main line of the Grand Union Canal to London. CEDAR is in her original condition, apart from the cabin which has been re-built. She is leased to a coal merchant. CEDAR Other Photos
M ELM EREWASH   LOUGH 62   MALLARD in Willow Wren fleet and later as a hotel boat.
B ASH EREWASH       She was registered with the Municipal Borough of Loughborough on 1 January 1948 and was transferred to the British Transport Commission, London. She was allocated to the South Eastern Division Carrying Fleet on 1 October 1953 and was then taken on by British Waterways on 1 January 1963. ASH was later sold to Nigel and Di Carter who converted her to a residential boat. In their ownership, she was based at Cowley lock on the Grand Union Canal. Around 1972, she was sold to Stroudwater Cruises Ltd., Gloucester and in 1974; she was bought by the Birmingham & Midland Canal Carrying Company. Was with B&MCC for years in use as a camper and carrying before that. Still in B&MCC fleet and based at Gas street
B LATCHFORD " " " "   RUNC 438    
M CERES " " " "       Ex GUCC unconverted 8/99
B SIR JOHN JELLICOE A & A PEATE maesbury  7 CHEST 788   .11/94
M OLIVE C. BALLINGER   GLOS 536 BCN 1837 Formerly Beech from Severn and Canal. Hired from Harkers in 1949 and bought by C Ballinger jnr in 1952 skippered by Jimmy Hunt & Charlie Ballinger jnr. Picture (p45 Faulkner) of Charles Ballinger and his wife with OLIVE on Gloucester and Sharpness Canal on 12 September 1959 carrying chocolate beans from Sharpness to Cadburys at Bourneville. Mainly used as the Match boat and for coal runs on the river Severn for Samuel Moreland & Sons Ltd  the makers of Englands Glory Matches in Gloucester. Cut to 55ft by Wyvern Shipping at the same time as FIR. Currently moored on Kennet and Avon in Devizes area and owned by Tes Woodward and Adrian Noakes. Other Photos
B EDNA GRACE " "   GLOS 505 /472   1923 (ex Healings) owned and skippered by Charles Ballinger snr then passed on to Charles Ballinger jnr (his nephew) was still owned by Ballingers in 1951. Sold by Ballingers in 1954. Appeared at Northampton Rally in 1971 with a changed name to GUIDING STAN. Last reported at Hampton Hall Farm as a houseboat in 1978.
B AMITY " "   GLOS 35   1879 Skippered by James Ballinger snr, Gloucester (for 6 months) owned by S&SCCo
B THOMAS " " B'HAM 210 BCN 7330   registered on March 15th 1879 Owned by James Ballinger and skippered by Benjamin and James Ballinger, Gloucester. Health Records show (Birmingham records MS316/1) that on 15/03/1879 she was travelling from Birmingham through Gloucester and on to Deerhurst nr. Tewkesbury. She was carrying Hay, Coal and Timber being pulled by two Donkeys and having one aft cabin. Owned by James Ballinger and skippered by Benjamin Ballinger.
B RAYMOND " "       1881 census shows Thomas & Eliza Ballinger (Charles jnrs parents) living on board in Birmingham. We are still tracing which RAYMOND this was?
B THOMAS " " GLOS 231     1888 Skippered by Charles Ballinger Snr, but owned by Sarah / Benjamin Ballinger, Gloucester. Latterly owned by Charles Ballinger snr and sold in 1905 to be replaced by THOMAS health registers #405.
B THOMAS " " GLOS 405 BCN 20007   1905. Owned and skippered by Charles Ballinger snr then passed on to Charles Ballinger jnr (his nephew) in 1930 was still owned by Ballingers in 1951. Sold by Ballingers in 1955 due to the loss of the Townsend coal contract. Later renamed MALVERN.
B BESS " " GLOS 470     1912 Originally skippered by Charles Ballinger jnr but owned by Frank Cookley of Framilode. Sold by Ballingers in 1929.
B ENERGY " " GLOS 444 BCN 21084   1936 (ex Healings) was still owned by Charles Ballinger jnr in 1951. Previously named SAVONA. Originally owned by A.R. Giddins, Gloucester then William Seddens prior to Charles Ballinger. Wooden cabined horseboat registered at Tipton on 06/06/1910.
B FRANCES " " GLOS 510 BCN 983   1942 (previously named HANBURY) ex S&CCCo. Frances (possibly named after Charlies wife Fanny) was re-named and re-registered by Charles Ballinger jnr on 29/07/1942 at Stoke Prior. Initially registered on 23/12/1924 as HANBURY by S&CCCo in Gloucester. Frances appears photographed in LTC Rolts Worcestershire (1947) carrying coal for the Severn with side cloths up to go on the river.
M BRIDGET " " GLOS 529 BCN 1853   Ex FIR Severn and Canal. All steel motorboat built by Hills in 1935. Hired from Harkers in 1949 and bought by C Ballinger jnr in 1950. Skippered by Lionel Tonks during Ballingers ownership. Was cut down to 55ft and then re-lengthened to 64ft by Wyvern Shipping. Sold in 1976 and located in 1996 owned by a Mr Dean and registered as BW# 61839. Picture of FIR (p31 Faulkner) tied up at Gloucester Docks 2nd August 1949 when on hire to Charles Ballinger, he purchased her in the following year. Mainly used to carry for Cadburys from Frampton to Bourneville. Currently moored near Bath on Kennet & Avon.
M SUSAN " "   BCN 1111 1616 & 2020   Ex Kimberley FMC & DIWE. bought by Charles Ballinger in 1953 renamed SUSAN skippered by George Page during Ballingers ownership. Mainly used to carry for Cadburys from Frampton to Bourneville, but on exceptional occasions carried loads from BW barges from Diglis to Birmingham. For Example George Page loaded aluminium from Diglis to Sherborne Street in September 1956. Later renamed KIMBERLEY again. Moved to Kennet and Avon (Kennet Carrying Company) used as a trip boat and then a camping boat. Later hired out as a working boat and worked on the UCC fleet from Braunston. Also worked for Foxton Canal Carriers in 1969. Sold at (but not owned by) Warwickshire Flyboat Company and now owned by a Mr J Birtles since 1997. Currently moored at Brinklow Arm North Oxford Canal. Still unconverted motor. This and most of the other info on Ballingers boats has been supplied by the Ballinger family.
B RAVEN " "   BREN 497 G 12539 Ex HYDRUS GUCC
B MERLIN " "   RICK 47 G 12443 Ex MUSCA GUCC
B LINNET " "   RICK 41 G 12541 Ex ARIEL GUCC
M HARRY " "     G 11971  
B VULTURE " "   BERKO399 G 11354 OC5375 B20310
B DUCHESS OF YORK " "        
M VICTORIA " "        
B DUCHESS OF ATHOLL " "       conv.fs.
M HEATHER BELL " "   WORCS 211 B 2253 Ex C&D. MARCH In early June 2005 Michael Drawbridge told WCBS that Heather Bell was at Stretton, Staffs. Repairs to Heather Bell were approaching the midway stage. A new swim, counter block and counter bottoms had been fitted. She is now in Norfolk and the restoration is nearly complete.




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