Sunday, 28 January 2018

Tom o’the Wood (A cruise to the pub and some working boat history)

As I said in the last blog update, this entry includes some information on the derelict working boats moored at Shrewley, but first, here is a catch up on Sunday.

In the morning we cruised four miles back to the Tom o’the Wood to meet some friends for lunch.  It was a lovely mild and sunny day as you can see from the photographs.

Cruising to the pub on Sunday in the gorgeous sunshine

First we had to continue towards the locks at Hatton and turn at the winding hole.

Winding the boat at the winding hole between Hatton station and Hatton locks

Karen happy to be relaxing and cruising after a week at work and a trip to Yorkshire

After winding the boat, Karen walked to the Tom o’the Wood with Buddy whilst I drove the boat.  As it was a Sunday and such a lovely day there were a lot of people out for walks along the towpath.

Cruising past the Mid-Warwickshire Yacht Club moorings at Hatton station

I hadn’t realised that buzzards are now the commonest bird of prey in Britain and there were certainly plenty around today.  Phones aren’t really the cameras to use for taking pictures of birds but here's one of the buzzards flying over us - more to show off the blue skies rather than the bird πŸ˜‰

Disappearing into Shrewley tunnel - Buddy looking down at me disappearing

Moored at the Tom o'the Wood

We had a great lunch with Chris, Sue, Mike & Lesley; really good to catch up on all their news.  It was especially good as both couples are having boats built at present so no one was left out in boring boating conversation which, in my memory, can be just as boring, for non-boaters, as ski conversations are for non-skiers.

After a good pub lunch, Mike & Lesley ran us to Hatton station to pick our car up and had a nice surprise for us when they dropped us off.  When they helped us clean the boat in the summer, after we had been moored next to the house they are building in Cropredy, Mike couldn't believe the state of our mop.  We couldn't really understand what he was on about, but they had bought us a new one anyway - can you really tell the difference?

As it was getting dark by the time we got home, we decided to stay put and I'll run the boat down to Lapworth tomorrow to turn round and then cruise back to Hatton station for the rest of the week.

So, back to the non-working working boats; this shows the state of them when Buddy and I cruised past last Tuesday:

The boat at the back is called Mabel and the other is Forget-Me-Not

I am indebted to our boating friend, Wendy, for providing a lot of this information, some of which came from Bate’s Boatyard website.  Jem Bates is one of the few restorers of wooden narrowboats in the country and his yard is on the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union canal.  Jem also has a dry dock at the junction of the arm with the Grand Union at Bulbourne and, coincidentally, we had our first boat blacked there one winter.  Also, coincidentally, Karen’s mum, Ann, is very good friends with Betty who is the grandmother of Jem’s wife – small world eh? 😊

The potted history of Mabel is as follows:

  • 1928: built as a horse boat by Lees & Atkins of Polesworth for John Wilson who worked it for the Oxford Canal No.1 Carrying Company. It was named after Mabel Wilson
  • 1934: fitted with a Petter engine
  • 1953/4: converted to a hotel boat at Tooley’s Yard in Banbury* for John Rogers trading as The Inland Navigators and paired with butty Forget-Me-Not
  • 1959: the Petter engine was replaced with an Armstrong Siddley
  • 1963: sold to Peter Froud of Preston Brook who ran the pair as hotel boats
  • 1988: sold to Tim Carter who carried on running the pair as hotel boats
  • 1999: purchased by Sean & Samantha Cook who are believed to be the current owners
* The dry dock at Tooley’s boatyard in Banbury (on the Oxford canal outside the indoor shopping centre) is the oldest inland dry dock still working today – it first operated in 1790.  

This is the potted history of Forget-Me-Not which is one of the last (or the last) boat left that was built by Sephton Boats of Coventry:

  • 1928: built as a horse boat for Oxford Canal Company with John George Grantham of Banbury as master
  • 1944: inspected by Daventry Sanitation inspector who allowed back cabin to be used as a dwelling
  • 1944: owner changed to Samuel Barlow Coal Company with J.G. Grantham still as the master
  • 1953: sold to J. Skinner
  • 1955: sold to John Rogers trading as The Inland Navigators it was paired with Mabel and converted to a hotel boat
  • 1963: sold to Peter Froud of Preston Brook who ran the pair as hotel boats
  • 1988: sold to Tim Carter who carried on running them as hotel boats 
  • 1999: purchased by Sean & Samantha Cook who are believed to be the current owners

These are some pictures of the boats taken during their history:

Mabel setting out with a load of house coal for Messrs Atkins of Banbury
1950: Mabel, before she was converted to a hotel boat, acting as a trip boat on the Market Harborough arm of the Grand Union canal – as one caption said, “Health & Safety is ruining today’s society”.  She ran trips from Market Harborough to Foxton locks as part of the (in)famous Inland Waterways festival

Soon after conversion to hotel boats at Banbury. A view of the sterns of both boats with Forget-Me-Knot’s tiller inverted thus showing it is at rest and also allowing easier access to the rear cabin.

Early days as hotel boats – Mabel in front and Forget-Me-Knot to the right

The hotel boats on the Llangollen canal at Sun Trevor overlooking the Dee valley


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