Other Severners: Ash

Ash was another of the “tree class” motors, and has a very interesting history – which has led to confusion.


Ash with Vienna, FMC butty, at Norton Canes.


Ash and GU motor Barnet


Ash and Barnet. The T-studs on the pointed counter are the features to look out for that distinguish “tree class” Severners.

Ash, along with Oak, were the first two Severners to be built by Charles Hill, and they had wooden cabins rather than the metal ones given to Willow and the later boats. We’re still researching what happened to it during WWII, as we’re trying to research which five boats were leased to Fellows Morton and Clayton in 1940, and are not currently sure whether Ash was one of them.

However we do know that Ash was, in 1948, not nationalised (along with two other Severners) and was owned by John Harkers, a tanker firm on the Severn. In the 1960s it was lived on as a houseboat (it had no engine at the time). At the HNBC AGM this year we met the lady whose lived in it and she has promised to send some photos

It eventually found its way to Norton Canes, on the northern reaches of the BCN, in the late 1970s in the ownership of boatbuilder Malcolm Braine. He also had Willow at the yard in 1979. Ash was rebottomed with elm in 1980, and is still at Norton Canes today, now with a steel bottom .

This is where the personal connection comes in. In 2011, when we did the BCN challenge on Yeoford, we moored at Norton Canes right next to it.

Little did we know that, in three years time, we would own one of Ash’s sister ships!

The confusion comes from the fact that, when it was nationalised, the severner Alder was renamed Ash probably because there was an ex-FMC motor called Alder in the fleet, so the renaming was to avoid confusion – but has caused it 60 years later!

Photo Credit: S. Edgson

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