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GUCCC Small Woolwich Star Class images


Becky70
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Hello there, We have just bought Antony Water Lilac, a 45ft converted Small Woolwich Star Class narrowboat. I have found lots of images of her days as Water Lilac with BW. But have had no luck with any pics of her life with the GUCCC. I have one photocopied picture of a lady working on Butty Alphons, with possibly Antony behind it, that came with all the paperwork with the boat. The lady's head is blocking the fleet number. Where would this picture have come from, a book possibly? If anyone has info or pictures of our boat from the past, it would be greatly appreciated.Unknown-1.jpeg.774338551c494e3e38f65a2ff6a1902c.jpeg

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Well firstly congratulations on your purchase, and welcome to the wacky world of historic boat ownership, (this assumes this is your first, of course!).

 

I don't want to dampen your hopes, but I think it is quite hard to find photos of much of the GUCCCo fleet in its working days.  Some boats are photographed time and time again, others it seems are very hard to find.

I can't say I ever recall seeing a photo of Antony, but of course there are countless photos of these boats where you can't see enough identifying information to tell what boat it is.

 

We have failed to turn up any pictures of Letchworth - the pre 1960 name of our Large Northwich, which became Flamingo in 1961.  Lots of Flamingo, but nothing before that.

Also nothing of our Middle Northwich Sickle, before photos I took of it when in service on the BW maintenance fleet in the early 1970s.  We would love to find one that dates back to when it had its ice ram.  O even a pre 1942 one of it as a full length carrying boat...

Never say never, though - new stuff does turn up from time to time.

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Antony was worked by one of the Wartime Trainees, with Alphons in September 1944. There is a photo in one of the Books written by Trainees, which says the motor is Alcor, but Alcor was in use by the London Fire Brigade at this time so it is highly likely that this is really Antony. Additionally there are two photographs in the Kit Gayford Collection showing a pair loading at Longford which has also been claimed as Antony and Alphons. In neither of them are the boats identifiable.  I believe one of these photos has been used in either Waterways World or Narrow Boat Magazines but no idea which or when.  Somebody will know! Margaret Cornish, in her book Troubled Waters has a picture of Alphons paired with a motor, but she doesn't name the motor either. As she worked with Margery McPhee and later owned Alphons again it is quite likely that the motor is Antony.

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One of the problems of finding photos of Small Northwich/Woolwich boats in GUCC livery is that most of them were withdrawn from service only a few years after being built.  Some, as has been suggested, were used as Fire Boats during WW11 but apart from that most of them lingered in docks abandoned. I have spent almost forty years seeking a photo of Pisces in GUCC livery without any luck, and only one in BW livery when it was a water bus as Water Sprite.

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Thank you so much for your quick response. Antony seems to be very illusive! I've been meaning to buy the books on the Idle Women, so will get them asap. You've given me lots of info to get my teeth into. We are new to the narrowboat world, but are so excited and enthusiastic about breathing new life into our boat. My grandmother lived a stones throw away from Limehouse Dock, and her garden backed onto the Regents, so would watch what she called Monkey Boats! and horses falling into the canal and climbing up the steps to get out. That was around the same time Antony would have been in service. 

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The old coal chutes at Longford Coventry by the then gas works.

I think it is what was the Courtaulds Little Heath factory in the background.

 

Now all gone. The gas works are The Ricoh Arena and a shopping complex.

The Courtaulds site a mixture of  a car showroom,

housing and business development.

 

longford.jpg

Edited by Ray T
  • Greenie 2
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This is wonderful?Thank you so much. We were on the boat yesterday when we read your reply. The photocopy we have of the lady, you can’t see the name Antony, but with this image it is confirmed. It’s great to see the front of the boat too, as we have all 36ft of her? I guess it’s time to track the back half now. Originally Little Plover and now also named Antony. Dare I ask what would be be considered the most valued half in the boaters world? It wouldn’t have the original back cabin, as it became a cruiser like ours. Sorry for the delayed response. We were worried the boat had a bad leak where it’s joined at the back. We aqua hovered the puddle out, then it reappeared. Went back to check yesterday and it’s bone dry. Just rain water running down from the cratch we thought. Got the pictures at the same time. It must be a good omen!!

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I imagine the bit you have would contain the most of the original boat, since if that was converted and looked similar to yours it would have a new front and back ends, leaving just a bit of side and bottoms of the original? What are your plans for Water Lilac? It'd be lovely to see an original BW hire boat! Our boat is a cut and shut too, we have the back end of butty Indus, converted to become Water Willow, though perhaps somewhat sadly, it doesn't look like Water Willow anymore. Best of luck with your lovely boat!

 

Ian.

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Yes! I know the stern was left on a tip, then Willow and Wren bought it much later and converted it for their fleet of boats. Ours has a square cruiser stern, which gives us a nice bit of space, with a teak deck. My profile picture is Water Lilac in the 60s with a central wheel house. Then we have this grey area of time where the cabin must have been changed. Around 2014 she  was sunk and through the insurance had a new cabin built in the same style as BW. It really needs a new roof covering as it has lino/vinyl painted and has got extremely damp underneath. What did they use on the roofs in the 60s? Lino just seems the wrong stuff to use, and were they the blue and yellow BW colours? Its blue and yellow painted decor on the inside. What shape sterns did Willow and Wren use I wonder? Who built Indus? And did Willow and Wren convert her to Water Willow, I would love to see a picture. 

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