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Springer Narrowboats


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#1 Heather Moggridge

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 02:39 PM

Can anyone tell me which boatyard built Springer narrowboats? My husband and I have just bought an old hull and are currently refurbishing her. She is called 'Alisa' (same name as Napoleons sister, I believe). Its my job to paint her details on the side of the boat.
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#2 alan_fincher

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 02:52 PM

Can anyone tell me which boatyard built Springer narrowboats? My husband and I have just bought an old hull and are currently refurbishing her. She is called 'Alisa' (same name as Napoleons sister, I believe). Its my job to paint her details on the side of the boat.

Springers were once the most prolific steel boats on the canals.

The company traded under various names I think, but was usually something like "Springer Engineering". (At one stage it was P.J.Smith trading as Springer Engineering....)

It was named after it's owner, (Sam Springer - I don't know who P.J.Smith was!).

I'm not at all sure all were built at the same location.

They were an established steel fabricator who saw an opportunity to branch out (very successfully) into canal boatsin the late 1960s, and continued to build narrowboats into the early 1990s.

Certainly they traded from Market Harborough at one stage, but whether all boats were built there, I'm not sure.

Can you tell us more about yours, and do you have any reliable information about it's age, please ?
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#3 Athy

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 04:25 PM

Certainly many of them emanated from Market Harborough. A photo of Alisa would help to guestimate its age, as styles changed a bit during Springers' long production run.
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#4 Heather Moggridge

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 10:23 PM

Can anyone tell me which boatyard built Springer narrowboats? My husband and I have just bought an old hull and are currently refurbishing her. She is called 'Alisa' (same name as Napoleons sister, I believe). Its my job to paint her details on the side of the boat.

It was built in 1978 and its number is 65100. It sank in Paddington apparantly in 2003 (it was a residential boat)
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#5 rallyfan

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 12:51 PM

It was named after it's owner, (Sam Springer - I don't know who P.J.Smith was!).


I believe he was the son-in-law. (Sits back and wait to be shot down in flames :lol:)
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#6 Athy

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 01:28 PM

I believe he was the son-in-law. (Sits back and wait to be shot down in flames :lol:)

Mr. Fan, do you know of any documentation or historical articles about the firm? For a company so crucial to the development of pleasure boating for so long, it does seem very mysterious. I'd love to read more about them.
Incidentally I see that our cars are related, though the Athymobile comes from the quieter Forester branch of the family!
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#7 Heather Moggridge

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:29 AM

Springers were once the most prolific steel boats on the canals.

The company traded under various names I think, but was usually something like "Springer Engineering". (At one stage it was P.J.Smith trading as Springer Engineering....)

It was named after it's owner, (Sam Springer - I don't know who P.J.Smith was!).

I'm not at all sure all were built at the same location.

They were an established steel fabricator who saw an opportunity to branch out (very successfully) into canal boatsin the late 1960s, and continued to build narrowboats into the early 1990s.

Certainly they traded from Market Harborough at one stage, but whether all boats were built there, I'm not sure.

Can you tell us more about yours, and do you have any reliable information about it's age, please ?




Springers were once the most prolific steel boats on the canals.

The company traded under various names I think, but was usually something like "Springer Engineering". (At one stage it was P.J.Smith trading as Springer Engineering....)

It was named after it's owner, (Sam Springer - I don't know who P.J.Smith was!).

I'm not at all sure all were built at the same location.

They were an established steel fabricator who saw an opportunity to branch out (very successfully) into canal boatsin the late 1960s, and continued to build narrowboats into the early 1990s.

Certainly they traded from Market Harborough at one stage, but whether all boats were built there, I'm not sure.

Can you tell us more about yours, and do you have any reliable information about it's age, please ?



I forgot to thank you all for the info. It was very useful. I had just got in from line dancing (yes I know how sad I am!) so it was quite late and I forgot my manners.

I will post a photo as soon as I have one. But the mechanic - my better half - hasn't been recording his progress.

He is currently gloating because he has finished the shower and 'it looks incredible'

We live quite a distance from the boatyard so I haven't seen it since we bought it. I spelt its name wrong - its Elisa not Alisa.
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#8 tony collins

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Posted 26 September 2009 - 12:57 AM

"Sam" Springer's yard was almost in the centre of Market Harborough Not far off the A427 after leaving the cross with the (old) A6 on the way towards Corby. The "Smith" company moved to a new factory further out of the town on the same road. One thing about Springers, they never pretended to be anything other than cheap boats. You could wander in to the factory and see the boats being built, including the 3mm ply (and steel) and self tapping screws.

They have allowed a lot of people to get on to the waters in a steel boat that otherwise would not have been able to do so.

Tony.
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#9 Pentargon

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 07:49 PM

Rather than start a new thread I thought I'd tag onto this one if that's ok? I'm about to become owner/driver of a 36' Springer and would love to touch base with others in a similar pickle or better still with people who have been well-pickled in Springer sauce. Any takers?
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#10 Guest_Quo Vadis_*

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:08 PM

I was lent a book "Boatbuilders of Market Harborough" Ref: 2439 by Bob Hakewill. that tells you all you need to know about Springers, you can buy it here
Their original factory was in Mill Hill and made tanks for water / heating oil etc prior to branching into boats.
I well remember Harborough traffic being brought to a standstill whenever a boat was squeezed from the factory and out onto the A427 St.Mary's Road. Latterly they moved to a nice new factory on the Welland Industrial Estate adjacent to Rockingham Road, but went under soon after.

Edited by Quo Vadis, 10 December 2011 - 09:33 AM.

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#11 benfordboy

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:51 PM

Rather than start a new thread I thought I'd tag onto this one if that's ok? I'm about to become owner/driver of a 36' Springer and would love to touch base with others in a similar pickle or better still with people who have been well-pickled in Springer sauce. Any takers?


Dad has a 37' Springer ,Previously owned by the Late Graham Capelin who was an avid supporter of the waterways. Graham won several prizes I believe at various IWA shows in the London Area with the boat made up as a Tube Train (Unfortunately we have never managed to track down any pics of it in that guise) We do have the original London Transport poster advertising the event.

We have borrowed the boat on several occasions when our cruiser was out of action - Cruising both canals & Tidal rivers (Trent & Thames) & found her to behave very well in all manners.

Springers are not everyones cup of tea (We have been called a 'Floating skip' by some !)but Sam Springer brought narrowboating to the masses in the way Norman & Dawncraft delivered boating to folks in an earlier age. The slightly 'unfinished' look (Unground welds etc) now make the boats look a little rough around the edges compared with modern NB's (At least he never stuck on 'False' rivets!) Many folks (As a previous post) point fingers at thin hulls - Sam apparently used what ever steel he could lay his hands on at the 'right price' to build the boats - Some have thinner hulls than others - It's a testament to the legacy to see how many Springers are still afloat. Buying one today - It may be worth a hull survey to check things are ok , & check out the BMC Engine that was commonly but not always fitted (Not everyone has looked after the British Bullet!)

Not our boat - But we love em for what they are (They are almost as low on the Nb pecking order as our GRP craft ! - ie just above GRP & Hire boats :blush: )

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#12 Mary P

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 11:07 PM

There was an interesting article in one of the canal mags a year or 2 back (I think in 2 parts) all about the Springer story. I'll see if I can dig them out.....
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#13 Guest_Quo Vadis_*

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:23 AM

Ah well .... back to Specsavers .... just realised this thread is from Sept 2009 heee haw :blush:
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#14 Dog

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 06:50 AM

Posted Image
[/quote]
Nice row of targets on the far bank...
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#15 Hastings

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 08:08 AM

I was lent a book "Boatbuilders of Market Harborough" by Bob Hakewill. that tells you all you need to know about Springers

You can also get the book from us at Audlem Mill or via www.canalbookshop.co.uk - look for Boats & Craft on the menu on the left.

We had a late 1970s Springer 28' from about 1981 to 1986, and travelled extensively in it. Once, going down the Macc in a drought period when water levels were low, we hit an underwater obstruction south of Congleton. It split a weld somewhere underneath, and water came in. The bilge pump coped just about, till we managed to get the boat slipped out at David Piper's yard at Red Bull, Kidsgrove. You'll appreciate that they were a bit sniffy at having a Springer in their yard, so we had it taken by lowloader to the Middlewich dry dock, where Chris Cliff's people set about welding a bit of steel on. A low cost repair, and all then went well. We sold the boat to be a spare bedroom for teenagers in London. Forward 23 years, and I saw our boat again a bit north of Suttons Stop on the Coventry Canal just two years ago! It still looked good. Springers seem to go on for ever!

Edited by Hastings, 10 December 2011 - 08:09 AM.

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#16 Athy

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 08:58 AM

There was an interesting article in one of the canal mags a year or 2 back (I think in 2 parts) all about the Springer story. I'll see if I can dig them out.....

You are most kind. I did try to make them interesting! They were in Canal Boat, latter part of 2010, I have saved these copies but do not have them to hand to quote the exact dates.
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#17 Dalesman

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:21 PM

You might find this interesting
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#18 Athy

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:24 PM

Good stuff, DM - if I remember rightly you sent me those when I was researching my Canal Boat articles. At least one CWF member has a Springer "tug style", though it is a bit different from what would pass as a tug these days!
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#19 Laurie.Booth

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 03:48 PM

Yep, it's me with the Springer Tug. Not that I knew what it was until I joined this great forum,
It's 35ft

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:)
So if Pentargon wants to view it, no problems, she's moored in Birmingham
:)
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#20 benfordboy

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 04:32 PM

Yep, it's me with the Springer Tug. Not that I knew what it was until I joined this great forum,
It's 35ft

Posted Image

Posted Image

:)
So if Pentargon wants to view it, no problems, she's moored in Birmingham
:)


Laurie

We have seen yr Springer whilst cruising about in our Norman a few yrs ago - Always thought it was a Owner mod !!

Is yours the only one ?? Never seen another like it
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