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magpie patrick

Hire boats - any research been done

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Anothe one to add is Braunston Boats (Hire) Ltd based at Bottom Lock, Braunston. Started by Balliol Fowden in 1981, using all Steel Narrow Boats built by their sister company Braunston Canal Services. I have a copy of their 1990's brochure.

 

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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The Amenity Demand for Inland Waterways. Holiday Hire Boating on the Inland Waterways of England and Wales. Paperback – 1978

 

 

Has been my Amazon basket for a few years now but at £70.50 will stay there unbought.

 

The interesting thing is the authors M.J.Stabler and Sally Ash...Would that be the Sally Ash?

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2 hours ago, David Schweizer said:

Anothe one to add is Braunston Boats (Hire) Ltd based at Bottom Lock, Braunston. Started by Balliol Fowden in 1981, using all Steel Narrow Boats built by their sister company Braunston Canal Services. I have a copy of their 1990's brochure.

 

 

 

 

And Braunston based Union Canal Carriers. I hired ex-working boats (camping boats) from them in 1973 & 1974.

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Braunston boats was actually started up in the late 60s by Chris Barney when a luxury purchase tax of 25% (pre VAT) made it difficult to sell his “Barney Boats.”

 

Other early hire boat outfits were Constellation Cruisers of Higher Poynton. Maidline and Double Pennant of Wolverhampton -all early 60s.  I’d recommend an early edition of Know Your Waterways  or The Canals Book for their adverts!

 

Paul

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1 hour ago, cuthound said:

 

And Braunston based Union Canal Carriers. I hired ex-working boats (camping boats) from them in 1973 & 1974.

1976 we hired Weasel, a Barney Boat from Braunston bottom. Barney had I think three hire boats, all around 35’ and powered by a Sabb one pot fishing boat engine.

22 minutes ago, Paul H said:

Constellation Cruisers of Higher Poynton

Constellation cruisers still technically exists, it’s the hire boat bit of Braidbar but not currently active.

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3 hours ago, carlt said:

 

 

Has been my Amazon basket for a few years now but at £70.50 will stay there unbought.

 

The interesting thing is the authors M.J.Stabler and Sally Ash...Would that be the Sally Ash?

(Sigh)...

 

I'm now quite a bit poorer but will soon be the proud owner....?

 

At least it wasn't an advert for a wooden boat... ?

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3 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

(Sigh)...

 

I'm now quite a bit poorer but will soon be the proud owner....?

 

At least it wasn't an advert for a wooden boat... ?

 

Now I wish I wasn't so tight.

 

If it had come down to about £50 I'd have bitten.

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22 minutes ago, carlt said:

 

Now I wish I wasn't so tight.

 

If it had come down to about £50 I'd have bitten.

I should now confess I got it for £35 on abebooks - I'll lend it to you once I've had a good nose through it

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1 hour ago, Paul H said:

Braunston boats was actually started up in the late 60s by Chris Barney when a luxury purchase tax of 25% (pre VAT) made it difficult to sell his “Barney Boats.”

 

Other early hire boat outfits were Constellation Cruisers of Higher Poynton. Maidline and Double Pennant of Wolverhampton -all early 60s.  I’d recommend an early edition of Know Your Waterways  or The Canals Book for their adverts!

 

Paul

I know that, In 1977 Balliol Fowden took over the former Willow wren yard from Chris Barney, and formed the boat building and repair company, Braunston Canal Services. In 1981 Balliol founded Braunston Boats (Hire) Ltd, which had nothing to do with Chris Barney or his comany Braunston Boats.

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On 06/05/2019 at 19:38, Tony Brooks said:

Having worked in a hire fleet on the Thames in the 70s.

 

Some Thames hire fleets: Timms of Stains (Water suffix to name), Maid line at Thames Ditton and Wallingford (Maid prefix to names), Bates of Chertsy (Star suffix to names), One I can't remember the name of from further down river, Bushnells (Gay prefix to names but dropped if later) & Andrews at Maidenhead, Andrews at Bourne End (different company), Bushnells of Wargrave (Grey prefix to names) (different company). A company called Red Line operated from Abingdon. I am trying to remember if Benson Cruiser Station operated hire boats then, I suspect they entered the market later.

 

All operating wooden cruisers, some built by themselves like Bastes and some bought in from the broads and South Coast builder and fitted out by the company. Maid Line had some Seacrete hulls.

 

Maid Line also operated out of what is now Rose narrowboats with wooden canal cruisers.

 

At the time GRP was coming in so things like Seamaster 25s, 27s, & 28s plus centre and aft cockpit Elysian 27s and I think a 40 foot one were being hired.

 

The Hoseasons started to cover the Thames so all sorts of small operators of hire fleets sprang up, many of doubtful quality. Some of the "better ones" were Salters (of steamer fame) at Oxford, Bridge Boats and Caribbean Cruisers at Reading. They were all operating production GRP cruises, many from the broads like the Caribbeans etc. Gradually all the fleets moved to GRP. There was one outfit operating from Kennet Mouth and another from what is now the Four Pillars Hotel site at Littlemore. Eynsham Cruiser station operated a fleet of Caribbeans.

 

The around the early/mid 80s charter flights brought cheap holidays in the sun so the Thames hire fleets took a hit. Many gave up the hire side of things, some were bought out by companies like Rank Leisure (I suspect for the future value of their sites) and foreign investors seemed to pour money into some hire fleets like Benson hence we now have Le Boat in at least two sites on the Thames. Caribbean Cruisers and Bridge boats merged and as far as I know are still a private company. Bushnells of Maidenhead merged with Andrews of Maidenhead and were then taken over by Rank Leisure and after a few years closed.

 

You have also forgot Horace Clark at Sunbury on Thames (Vjeara line) . At Weybridge there was a Miss line but can't remember the name of the company. Also TW Allen and sons at Molesey lock

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From my 1960 book ''Holidays in boats''  Horace Clark and Son boat ''Vjera-Wey'' five berth boat.

002.JPG

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4 hours ago, Paul H said:

I’d recommend an early edition of Know Your Waterways  or The Canals Book for their adverts!

Here on Belfast I have in front of me a copy of The Canals Book "Fully Revised 1973 Edition" and I have the 1968 edition at home.  It's full of ads of long gone hire companies ( and boatbuilders etc). Many of the ads make a point of features like hot and cold running water and 6ft headroom as if these are novelties - how standards have changed. But few if any mentions of showers, heating (or toilets).

Wyvern shipping offer "safe economical diesel engines (3 hours running for 14p)".

There's also a list of licence charges - 12 months canals licence for a boat exceeding 70 ft is £33!

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There's an ad in my book.  Keel boathouse, Reading.   Cruisers from £13 to £20 weekly. Open launches by hour, day or week. Camping skiffs and punts, Charter trips for parties up to 30.  Telephone ''Reading 67155''. 

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I have just dug out some old IWA Bulletins and Rally programmes dating from 1967 to 1975. there must be at least a dozen hire boat company adverts. When I have a bit more time, I will post a list.

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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Don't forget the BW "Water" boats.

 

Water Babies 

Water Baby.JPG

 

Water Valiant

 

Water Valient.JPG

Edited by Ray T

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We first hired in October 1974 from Willow Wren Kearns at Middlewich. We hired Larch a 50ft wooden top it was 8berth. We had seven on board so it was a bit crowded. We alawys liked the Willow Wren wooden tops and I have a hankering to own one and return it to something its original condition. They do still exist - there is one on the Trent at Beeston. If you look in my galleryimages you will find pictures of many of the Middlewich boats. I have included a couple in this post. I also have a small collection early hireboat literature.gallery_3364_231_19177.jpg

gallery_3364_231_276465.jpg

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23 hours ago, David Mack said:

Wyvern shipping offer "safe economical diesel engines (3 hours running for 14p)".

There's also a list of licence charges - 12 months canals licence for a boat exceeding 70 ft is £33!

 

I have a somewhat older brochure that says "3 hours running for 2 shillings and six pence" - that's inflation for you!

 

Wyvern Shipping is interesting because when it migrated from a carrying boat company to a hire boat company, they literally cut wooden boats in half and grafted back ends on them to make 2 hire boats.

 

Even by 1971 when I worked for them on Saturday turn around days half the fleet was ex working boat conversion, and only half actually purpose built leisure boats.

 

By sheer coincidence I passed one of their old boats at Braunston yesterday - this one was virtually new in 1971, I think and I regularly steered it back then.  Despite the modern lines, we are talking gravity fed water from the tank on the roof, (no water pumps), and sea toilets.  The luxury of a shower was only offered in one of the dozen or so boats they were then operating.

 

IMG_5926.JPG

Edited by alan_fincher

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8 hours ago, Ray T said:

Don't forget the BW "Water" boats.

 

Water Babies 

Water Baby.JPG

 

Water Valiant

 

Water Valient.JPG

Here is our old ex BW Water Baby - the first Fincher family canal boat.

 

Wendover_Arm_Stop_Lock.jpg

 

Water Valiant looks very different now, having been returned much more to its original guise as Small Northwich Enceladus.....

IMG_2784.JPG

Edited by alan_fincher

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Don't know whether this video has been mentioned before. 30 minutes British Waterways Heritage film from 1978 with plenty of footage of the hire boat 'Water Topaz'.  At this time we just had a little cuddy boat on a trailer but I remember us later on hiring a 56' NB 'Sigurd' in about 1986 from Viking Afloat in Worcester.

 

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Thanks everyone for their contributions - more to this subject than meets the eye at first glance - isn't there always!

 

Graham Boyes, President of the RCHS, reckons the best way to explore history is to start with the present and work backwards, in effect from the known into the unknown. I guess what I'm looking at is the evolution of the hire boat industry to that which we recognise today, so going backwards make sense. By "the industry we recognise today" I mean holiday hire, of self steer self propelled vessels, and on the canal network, or at least having access to it.

 

Trouble is, even canal network is open to interpretation - it may or may not include the River Thames for example,, and it probably does include the Mon and Brec even though that's clearly not on the network! 

On 06/05/2019 at 17:03, David Schweizer said:

I recently aquired a book, published in 1975, entitled "Britains's Holiday Waterways" which is basicly a collection of photos with short captions. Most of the boats are either privately owned or unidentified hired boats, but there are some photos featuring hire boats. You are welcome to borrow it.

Thank you David, I've always intended to meet up with you, and you made similar kind offers when I was ill several years ago - this time we'll try and make it happen!

 

On 06/05/2019 at 18:18, Paul H said:

Worth looking at canalscape.net and various articles on   http://waterwaysmuseumsociety.org.uk/publications/waterways-journal/previous-editions-of-waterways-journal/

 

also Canal Cruising of Stone is now in the hands of a 3rd generation so imagine they have some archives!

 

Paul

Very useful, thank you, and when I get going I think Canal Cruising Co would be a good contact. Even from my general knowledge it's surprising how many present operations have very long histories (or perhaps it's not?)

 

On 06/05/2019 at 16:15, Chris Williams said:

 

blue.jpg.ca87cb36073fcf981cc0e7d6f1ddff6d.jpg

 

1968, hired this wooden outboard 2 berth cruiser from Blue Line at Braunston.

Lovely photo! And I want to say to people "hire boating was once like this you know"... in much the same way as we can show photos of Caen Hill Locks derelict and draw a gasp...

On 09/05/2019 at 13:00, David Schweizer said:

I have just dug out some old IWA Bulletins and Rally programmes dating from 1967 to 1975. there must be at least a dozen hire boat company adverts. When I have a bit more time, I will post a list.

 

 

Splendid - I'd guess that magazines like these, along with old canal guides, might be a primary resource. Indeed as I have a collection of canal guides thay might well be a starting point

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This photo is from Getty images. Taken on the Shroppie in 1939, "Four ladies enjoying a hire boat holiday".

 

Can't lay my hands on it at the moment but there are photo's of early holiday boats in the Francis Frith Collection.

gettyimages-3262172-2048x2048.jpg

 

There is also of course the book "Flower of Gloucester."

 

Edited by Ray T
  • Greenie 1

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41 minutes ago, Ray T said:

There is also of course the book "Flower of Gloucester."

"Gloster"

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On 09/05/2019 at 21:26, Richard T said:

We first hired in October 1974 from Willow Wren Kearns at Middlewich. We hired Larch a 50ft wooden top it was 8berth. We had seven on board so it was a bit crowded. We alawys liked the Willow Wren wooden tops and I have a hankering to own one and return it to something its original condition. They do still exist - there is one on the Trent at Beeston. If you look in my galleryimages you will find pictures of many of the Middlewich boats. I have included a couple in this post. I also have a small collection early hireboat literature.

 

There were 4 Middlewich boats for sale in Venetian Marina earlier this year including 'Willow' which I and friends hired 4x in the 90's.

My parents hired from The Tardebigge Boat Co. in the 60's. Tardebigge top lock being my first introduction to locks on the cut. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end.

They also hired boats from Wheaton Aston, I think that would be Anglo Welsh but I stand to be corrected.

Our hiring boat days finished off with a two week epic on an Ernie Thomas boat.

I still remember to this day conversations with himself the biggest majority unprintable in todays PC world.............or other stores for that matter.?

I've got a box full of prints, negatives and slides which I keep threatening to convert to digital file.....................one day....................

 

 

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3 hours ago, Ray T said:

This photo is from Getty images. Taken on the Shroppie in 1939, "Four ladies enjoying a hire boat holiday".

 

Can't lay my hands on it at the moment but there are photo's of early holiday boats in the Francis Frith Collection.

gettyimages-3262172-2048x2048.jpg

 

There is also of course the book "Flower of Gloucester."

 

I'll bet those four created quite a stir on that holiday - typical boating garb of the time it is not! In fact you don't see it often even now.....

 

On a more serious note, unless the man with the horse is husband, boyfriend or brother to one of them, which seems unlikely, that's not self-drive....

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