Colin Wareing reports on the chance discover, rescue and on-going restoration of a wonderful, 1910 wooden canal boat.
Back in 2018, a wooden canal boat that started life as a butty in 1910, was noticed languishing in a sunken state on the Grand Union canal at Braunston by a lorry driver from Liverpool, who happened to take a wander down the canal’s towpath which on a break from the cab.
The driver, Glynn, had a hankering for a new project and a long-held desire for a wooden boat, so he decided to rescue Conway. After pumping the boat out and refloating it, making it watertight and getting the engine going again, he and a mate took it further north, to a mooring in Litherland, on the Leeds & Liverpool canal, near Liverpool.
Over the past two years, much restoration work has been undertaken on the boat, which has included replacing a lot of timbers in the hull, re-blacking it, replacing the wooden cabin, plus fitting a replacement engine and gearbox. Glyn is now working on the internal fit-out.
The boat started life as a butty in 1910, being built for Thomas Claytons of Oldbury, and becoming No.19 in its fleet. It was sold to ICI in 1949, and was shortened from its original 70ft length to 60ft, and motorised with an engine. After that it was mainly used as a tanker boat carrying oil and chemicals.
The boat has now been moved to a new mooring on the Bridgewater canal, where work will continue on the engine room fit-out, the installation of a bathroom and the inclusion of a traditional boatman’s cabin. The area that was the hold has started its transformation into the sleeping area, and will remain with a clothed-up covering.
A lot of hard work has gone into the project so far and the boat’s already looking great. Hopefully I’ll be invited back again to see the finished project.
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