Monthly Archives: November 2014

Fitout 50: Kitchen Baseplate cupboard

Not done any serious fitout work for a while, but recently we decided to tackle the offside in the kitchen, opposite the main worktops and sink. Previously there had been a radiator there, which meant we couldn’t install any cupboards on that side. However, it turned out to be a quick job to empty some of the anti-freeze solution from the system, remove the rad and blank off the stubs of pipe then replace the solution. With the rad gone, we were able to install the IKEA wall cuboard we’d bought for the space when we’d imagined the whole kitchen installation and ordered back when Willow was still at Langley Mill. However, before we did this, we got out the jigsaw and cut a hatch into the floor to access the baseplate and use the cool space down there as storage for food when the fridge is out of action due to lack of sunshine.

We didn’t have enough worktop left to make the counter, and it only comes in massive expensive lengths, so we are using repurposed IKEA “Lamplig” chopping boards to create a little bit of worktop space. Directly below that is an open shelf which has the hot pipe from the back boiler running through it (plate warmer!) then the cupboard is at floor level, so that the bilges can be accessed easily from the bottom of the cupboard.

The new worktop catches the winter sun, which makes it a very nice perch for one of the cats!

Next job its to tile along the gap between the worktop and the panelling, using some original 1930s tiles (salvaged from the house next to to the one I grew up in, and which were used around all the fireplaces in the development)

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More from the C&RT archives

Two photographs of the same “Tree class” work boat on the Shroppie near Audlem, the first from Herbert Dunkley’s slides and the second by Arthur Watts in 1957. Frustratingly, the name of the boat is not visible at this resolution!

These ones are of Fir, when it was worked by Charles Ballinger, having been hired from Severn and Canal then bought in 1950. Charles worked Beech and Fir (renamed Olive and Bridget respectively) until he died in 1962.

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Introducing Bantam IV

Recently, the London Canal Museum advertised for a volunteer to take on the role of running and maintaining their only floating exhibit, the 1949 push tug Bantam IV. Essentially they wanted someone who could do basic work on the boat and the Lister JP2 engine and manage the work they couldn’t complete themselves, then be responsible for taking it to rallies and upkeep.


James saw the notice and naturally applied immediately. The museum got in touch soon after to say they’d like him to do it so James is their new “Tugmaster”! (what a great title!).

Today we went down to London to have a proper poke around the tug, inventory the contents and make a to do list. Rain water had got in and corroded the exhaust pipe so that will need replacing, and its not clear how far the water has got, hopefully it isn’t in the engine itself. We have some spare flexible exhaust pipe which may be the right size, so we measured it all up and covered the exhaust so that no more water can get in.

Hopefully over this winter the engine will be fixed (Marine Power Services will come and cast a professional eye over the JP once the exhaust is connected up and lagged) and then we can take it out next year – to nearby rallies to promote the museum and maybe even do some canal cleanups in conjunction with a C&RT work flat. For us it is an opportunity to get involved with the museum’s work and do some London boating on a fantastic little craft.





Lister JP2



Fore end


The exhaust had been temporarily repaired with a soft drink can!


Battlebridge Basin where the museum is located

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Digging around the C&RT Digital Archive

C&RT has recently digitised many of its photographic archives, and amongst the collection I’ve found several interesting images. None that could be positively identified as Willow, I don’t think, but certainly a fair few photos of boats which are definitely Charles Hill “trees”.

The first one I found was the above photo of an “unidentified British Waterways motorboat” taken in the 60s or 70s (it is undated). It looks tantalisingly similar to the photos we have of Willow when it was abandoned at Hayhurst Yard, but we can’t be sure if it’s the same boat, only that it’s definitely a “tree”. It doesn’t have the crane seen in the Hayhurst photos, but perhaps that was a later addition?

There is a lovely early promotional vignette of Ash, possibly outside the Severn and Canal Carrying Co warehouses in Birmingham, captioned “Very latest type of 30 ton all welded canal boat fitted with Petter 10hp engine”. I’m intruiged as to why the steerer is using a shaft, although it looks like the boat is reversing so perhaps he’s using it to keep the stern end pointing in the correct direction.

This photo of Gloucester Docks, sometime in the late 30s, shows Severn & Canal Carrying narrowboats including Motorboat No7 and the horseboat Hadzor moored outside the Severn & Canal Carrying warehouse. Two of the boats (on the far side and on the outside of the four breasted up in the foreground) are definitely “trees” so there’s a 25% chance one of them is Willow!

However, by far my favourite photo is this one taken in October 1957, showing Oak travelling along the Trent and Mersey canal near Colwich, during its days when, like Willow, it was part of the BW North West maintenance fleet. It’s such a beautiful, evocative image, and I’ve asked C&RT if I can have access to a higher quality version so I can frame it.

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Autumn Boating at Buckby

Realised I didn’t post these at the time. We went to Buckby a few weeks ago, for a Canal World forum gathering at the New Inn by the top lock. It was a great night, lots of fun seeing old boating friends and new. The Melaleucas, Simon and Ann kindly let us stay overnight with them, and in the morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast on Tawny Owl. Then, fuel boats Bletchley and Southern Cross were heading down the flight. It was a beautiful day and we were in no hurry to go home so we decided to help them. Spot the Marmite!
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Impromptu Punting

Yesterday I had a call from Bones saying “We’re in Cambridge and we’re going punting, can you be here in four and a half minutes?” Well, it took us a little longer than that but we did make it to the Backs to meet them not long after, and joined Bones, Maffi, Alex and the dogs Boots and Molly for a very brief excursion followed by a cup of tea on Quayside.

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It was lovely to see them all!

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