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I did wonder if the term Monkey Boat was a London invention, as it appeared in London papers. In a conversation with the late Edward Paget Tomlinson, I gather there was a thought that the name was derived from the Tipton, Smethwick and Selly Oak boatbuilding family, the Monk's, but there were other notices in the press that referred to monkey boats elsewhere in the world.

 

A reference to the canal boat version appeared in the Standard for January 21st 1841 when a detailed report of the Brentford Innundation was published. This happened on the Grand Junction Canal when timber floats broke loose following a flood. Barges and narrowboats were wrecked including a "monkey boat" called the Tipton Lass. The Grand Junction Canal Company were censured for not drawing the lock paddles when the waters were found to rise,. The Morning Chronicle on June 17th 1852 mentions the capsizing of a long narrow boat, or monkey boat which was being loaded with stone at Caens Wharf, Lower Rotherhithe, near the Old Globe Stairs on the Thames. Three people in the cabin were drowned. The  Morning Chronicle on May 17th, 1854 mentioned the fate of the Providence which was described as a Monkey Boat. This craft was carrying timber  and was crossing the river to the Woolwich Dockyard. The wash of a passing steam boat belonging to the General Steam Navigation Company was blamed for capsizing the Providence and the loss of most of the timber on board. The Jury accepted this was the case and awarded damages to the plaintiffs.  

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