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Heartland

The last canal carriers

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The recent post from Michael Askins regarding the replica Town Class ARUNDEL (Modern Carrying boats) perhaps requires a different post to explore the use of boats for delivering coal, smokeless fuels, diesel and calor gas in the present day. Whilst the publicity trips might capture the headlines, the day to day supply of items such as bagged fuel continues. Although it is a business that is subject to change and carriers they come and they go. I have heard John Jackson may have stopped using Roach. So is the list increasing or decreasing?. It is certainly good to hear that the VICTORIA is still at work. These craft mark a time when the canal carriers decided to take on the road carriers in the early 1930's. 

 

 

 

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There certainly seems to be more boats employed in retail fuels now than there was in the 1970's and 1980's. Back then coal was tipped loose from a lorry and bagged as required with the boats mostly working an agreed area, whereas now it is pre-packed and boats appear to overlap areas more.

 

edit = My boat operated full time in the retail coal business from 2001 to 2008, loading at John Jackson's yard at Awbridge :captain: 

 

Edited by pete harrison

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Jules Cook is still very much involved with fuel boats. She has just expanded her fleet with part shares in Tadworth which "Will have to earn its living."

 

Photo from Jules Fuels Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jules.fuels

38663639_1869549219791009_8695357781210824704_n.jpg

 

 

List here? 

 

Edited by Ray T
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3 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Jules Cook is still very much involved with fuel boats. She has just expanded her fleet with part shares in Tadworth which "Will have to earn its living."

I suspect it will be a while before TADWORTH returns to service, and of course TADWORTH is believed to be the first to have been set up for selling of retail diesel :captain:

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30 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Jules Cook is still very much involved with fuel boats. She has just expanded her fleet with part shares in Tadworth which "Will have to earn its living."

 

 

 

Brilliant little business run by Jules & Richard, 2 great waterways characters & I can't recommend their services highly enough.

 

Good luck to you both, long may you continue & I miss our little chats over tea & cake after our summer coal delivery, but hopefully there will be a chance to bump into you on a towpath somewhere in the not too distant.

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Was TADWORTH working for Argo when the diesel sales began? It was clearly a new development.

 

I saw MOUNTBATTEN selling fuel oil near the NIA in Birmingham at one of the Conferences, but that would be later.

 

 

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2 hours ago, BargeeSpud said:

 

Brilliant little business run by Jules & Richard, 2 great waterways characters & I can't recommend their services highly enough.

 

As far as I know Jules Fuels now has Bletchley (formerly Alan Buckles boat on the Nene),  Towcester and Bideford (Jules and richard) , Southern Cross and Cedar (Ryan Dimmock), and now Tadworth as work in progress.

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59 minutes ago, Heartland said:

Was TADWORTH working for Argo when the diesel sales began? It was clearly a new development.

 

I saw MOUNTBATTEN selling fuel oil near the NIA in Birmingham at one of the Conferences, but that would be later.

 

 

TADWORTH was being operated by Argo Canal Services when set up for retail diesel sales, and was featured as such in Waterways World magazine August 1988 page 67 - along with a suitable photograph. This article would probably have been written in May or June 1988 if it was published in the August 1988 edition - which would have been on the shelves in late July 1988). 

 

MOUNTBATTEN was bought by Ivor Batchelor in July 1988. My understanding at that time was MOUTBATTEN was set up for retail diesel sales (in addition to retail coal sales) by utilising some of the equipment removed from WHITBY.  WHITBY had been commissioned in 1988 as working bulk diesel to commercial premises, and I took a series of photographs at Newbold on 29 October 1990 where this exchange of equipment could have been in progress - but I am happy to be corrected as it was a long time ago :captain:

Edited by pete harrison

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There are of course now many more live aboard boats now than in the 70s and we did not think about supplying diesel fuel. The bulk of our solid fuel sales were to canal side houses, pubs, farms and on the Thames and Weaver lock houses. 

The story of starting retail coal sales has been told but it was not an easy process to get the approval of the then retail coal federation and the national coal board to become approved coal merchants but we did it in the end. 

Pre packed coal is obviously a lot easier than having 20 tones tipped in and then bagging it up but the extra margin made it more profitable and we were young.

 

 

 

 

 

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Since Mark Boardman (who was an excellent trader) sold Dusty, it has been seen but rarely in Cropredy, which used to be part of its regular beat. We didn't see it at all last year. Is it still trading?

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16 hours ago, matty40s said:

As far as I know Jules Fuels now has Bletchley (formerly Alan Buckles boat on the Nene),  Towcester and Bideford (Jules and richard) , Southern Cross and Cedar (Ryan Dimmock), and now Tadworth as work in progress.

 

 

Brilliant news matty, thanks.

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There are various other boats still operating, and a list is on the CBOA website; I'm not sure how comprehensive it is or how well it's kept up to date, but it has the NBT correct:   http://www.cboa.org.uk/commercial-members.html

 

On the whole each coal boat tends to stick to a patch, not treading on each others' toes, and between them much of the system is covered.

I hope a brief plug is permissible here!:

For example the Narrow Boat Trust, who I often crew for, do two runs per year with a pair selling coal and smokeless fuels, but not gas or diesel, along the Thames. We also do the Wey and the eastern end of the K&A.

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The BBC programme "The Golden Age of Canals" has quite a section on latter day coal carrying with Midland Canal Transport.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Dav and Pen said:

Pre packed coal is obviously a lot easier than having 20 tones tipped in and then bagging it up but the extra margin made it more profitable and we were young.

Even more profitable if you went through a very wet braunston tunnel without sheeting up.

My dad made that mistake with tadworth on his first trip for ashby (can never remember if it's canal carriers or canal transport) and found himself emerging from the tunnel with alarmingly little freeboard, although although by end of the trip when everything was tallied up he had sold just under 25 tons despite being loaded with a nominal 20 tons from the lorry

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59 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

Even more profitable if you went through a very wet braunston tunnel without sheeting up.

My dad made that mistake with tadworth on his first trip for ashby (can never remember if it's canal carriers or canal transport) and found himself emerging from the tunnel with alarmingly little freeboard, although although by end of the trip when everything was tallied up he had sold just under 25 tons despite being loaded with a nominal 20 tons from the lorry

Must have been a very wet day. The question is who had the extra! Tadworth was Ashby Canal carriers and the purchase and sale of the coal was officially Ashby Canal transport as they were the approved coal merchant, all the boats nominally were agents of ACT from whom they brought the coal. 

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This image appears to be ALTON taken on the Shropshire Union in September 1997, can anybody confirm that this is the case.

 

 

863952.jpg

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25 minutes ago, Heartland said:

This image appears to be ALTON taken on the Shropshire Union in September 1997, can anybody confirm that this is the case.

Yes this is ALTON, taken a couple of years after it was disposed of by the Narrow Boat Trust Ltd. :captain:

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I remember in the eighties John Yates commenting that due to all the moggies living onboard in Battlebridge he was the only one selling cat shit at £50 a ton.

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Thanks,

 

The last I heard of ALTON was working for Renaissance Canal Carrying on the Peak Forest, but not as far as I know delivering cat excrement.

 

But then, thinking about it, canal boats were once used to convey night soil to the farmers, so there was a precedent for Alton's earlier existence !

One of the night soil boatmen in the West Midlands was William Perry.

 

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BW, Willow Wren and Blue Line are all part of the general canal trade, which ended as stated around 1970 or a little later. Graham Wrigley has stated that his boats B&MCCo worked a little later on some jobs. But this thread is about those who chose to continue the trade using ex working boats or new craft to carry coal, calor gas, logs and diesel as independent carriers.

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