Bantam IV at the Cavalcade

Having dropped Bantam IV at Little Venice on Friday night, we went home, returning to spend the weekend in London, staying over Saturday and Sunday nights with my aunt Sue in West Hampstead. My mum was also up for the weekend, so it was a proper family affair!

On Saturday we made our way to Little Venice for lunchtime. We manned the Canal Museum stall, with volunteers Natalie and Tricia until my mum and Sue arrived later on. My mum stayed around and helped us on the stall, proving to be a fine advocate for the canal museum, despite never having been! In the evening we went back to Sue’s for a lovely dinner.

In the morning, we went for a walk on Hampstead Heath, starting at Sue and Dix’s allotment, which has perhaps the best views of any allotment in London, then up to Parliament Hill and back past the ponds.

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James went back to Little Venice in the afternoon, while my mum and I did a bit of charity shopping in the very nice Hampstead shops! Then, after dinner it was time to head back to the canal for the illuminated boats parade! The tug’s battery was flat so we relied on solar fairy lights, but it was a great evening, with a wonderfully celebratory atmosphere, and my mum and I joined James, Natalie and Nick on the tug for the whole thing!

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On Monday morning James had a lie in whilst I went for a walk with my mum and Sue up to the Hill Gardens on the heath, and back via the deer park, where we stopped for ice cream, since it was so sunny!

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In the afternoon I saw my mum on to her bus back to Dorset then went to Paddington to join James and museum manager Martin for the trip back to the museum on the tug. It was less eventful than the trip out, and much damper, but it’s always a treat to do a bit of canal boating!

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Bantam IV at the Cavalcade: Journey

We arrived at the Canal Museum earlier today, excited to do a short bit of London boating. The tug was to be used to move a stack of materials and banners for the festival, and two other museum staff, Natalie and Nick wanted to come too.

The adventure started before we’d left the basin at Battlebridge, with a visiting boater, nb Mystic Moon needing help getting into the space the tug had vacated. James helped by pushing the stern around. It turns out that Sue also blogs about her travels on Mystic Moon. She wrote about it from her point of view here, describing James as her “tug boat hero”!

Then we were off, arriving at at St Pancras lock behind a couple of boats and just before two more heading for the Cavalcade too. We shared with two other narrowboats. At the top we saw a big widebeam and they called out that they had problems with their propellor and could we push them into the lock? Of course we were happy to help!


Below the next lock we picked something up on the blades, bringing the tug to a standstill. Thankfully another boater helped us get to the bank and James was able to clear the propellor blades with the newly made up cabin shaft which we’d made sure was ready for today’s trip!



It turned out to be a holdall, sadly devoid of £50 notes!

We were soon up the next locks, as we were now sharing with not two but three other boats!



Then it was on through Regent’s Park and the Maida tunnel, to arrive in Little Venice!



Finding our spot was tricky as we were wedged in between two large boats, but we found enough space after a bit of shuffling! Now we’re back home but looking forward to the weekend!


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Bantam IV at the Cavalcade: Prep

On Sunday we went down to King’s Cross to do a few jobs on the tug. First, the exhaust pipe needed sealing, then James started the JP2 and we went for a little spin to test the engine.

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Then we got back and despite not having planned any painting, we couldn’t resist. This side of the tug is in the sun and have some fading from the UV light. We rubbed down and painted the green on this side, as well as all the red.

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Now it looks like this! All ready for the Cavalcade at the weekend!

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Bantam IV rides again!

On Saturday, James went to London to meet with Martyn from Marine Power Services, to try and get the Bantam’s Lister JP2 going again. It hadn’t been run for a year or two and there was a worry that water ingress via the exhaust may have caused damage. Thankfully it seems that the water has not caused any major issues, and after a bit of tinkering with timings and clearances Martyn was able to get the engine going again. Although longer term there are a few more things which could do with fixing, it will now go! He gave James a lot of good advice about care and maintenance, and they went for a spin round the basin. By chance there was another Bantam from Wood Hall & Heward carrying out some maintenance work outside. Bantams are still very much in demand, despite going out of production in the 60s!

Bantam Tug Scouser: Photo Wood Hall & Heward

Now, with the engine going again, we will be taking it to the Little Venice IWA Canalway Cavalcade in May! We want to carry out a fair bit of painting work before then, and get it looking good for the festival!

Bantam IV at the Cavalcade in Little Venice in 2013 (the last time it went) Photo: 3 days in London

Next task though is to make up a hooked cabin shaft for getting any nasties off the propellor blades, as there is no weedhatch. We have the hook, and pole, it’s just a matter of connecting the two!

Read more about the Bantam.

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Exhausting work

On Sunday we went down to London. I headed over to have tea with my younger sister, to giver her a bit of moral support and a break from her revision (her medical finals are not far off – good luck E!). Whilst I was enjoying a cup of thick Florentine hot chocolate and cakes, James went over to the canal museum. He wanted to do a few bits and pieces on the tug, ahead of the visit from the guy who is hopefully going to be able to repair the engine. The main job was to replace the exhaust pipe (which regular readers may remember was in a poor way, and held together with bits of soft drink can!).

He used a piece of flexible pipe which was spare from when James (ex-Kestrel) was repairing his exhaust pipe some years ago (one of those bits which you keep in case it comes in handy one day!). It had since been donated to Suzi Q, but evidently not used because James (Willow) then found it in the bin next to Willow and Suzi and fished it out before the bin men came to empty it! It’s now connected up and ready for lagging in Bantam IV!

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The tug’s engine room is covered in grime from where the old leaking exhaust had desposited smuts everywhere. Needs a proper scrub!

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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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