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Richard T

Timber to Leicester

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There is an article todays Leicester Mercury which talks about the timber trade to Leicester. I've copied the photo to post here it shows a pair of boats unloading at William Gimsons timber yard.

https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/common-view-leicestershires-waterways-3980636?fbclid=IwAR0wJE4itDtsNTjWEvwzgxEvXPyxXWfeoEL6hplye8RHvS1VcRwzkMrO8qE

Has anyone got any idea of which boats they may be? They look like they may be in an early BW colours. The photo is undated but the Mercury suggest 1940s I think its later than that.

0_NOSTALGIA-MAR25.jpg

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When the "third" boaty mag - Canals & Rivers? - was going, it had a column by a bloke called Ken Roseblade who had run a late-era carrying company called Seymour Roseblade in the Leicester area in the 1960s.  Perhaps they're boats from that fleet. If so, the motor could be 'Neptune'.

Edited by Athy

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Looks like a wooden butty and a Woolwich motor.

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Yes, a Big Woolwich motor, and I think a Big Ricky butty.

There is something written in an arc on the motor cabinside, but I can't make it out.

What are the cylindrical objects on the motor cabin top?

 

Edited by David Mack

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15 minutes ago, archie57 said:

They are the topcloths

I'd have thought they were the 'Tipit', the narrow heavy duty roll that runs along over the top cloth on top of the plank.

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I have found an aerial view of Gimsons timber yard off Upperton Road but I'm not convinced it is where the first photo was taken because the yard is towpath side and in the original it is offside. In the new photo you can see Freemans weir and lock and the site of where the football stadium now is.

4064905.jpg

 

I have done some further research and the only canal side timber yard I can find in Leicseter is on Pasture Lane. Whilst the buildings have changed this locations fits as there is an over bridge from which the original photo could have been taken. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17&lat=52.64230&lon=-1.13769&layers=168&right=BingHyb

Edited by Richard T
Additional information.

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6 hours ago, Athy said:

When the "third" boaty mag - Canals & Rivers? - was going, it had a column by a bloke called Ken Roseblade who had run a late-era carrying company called Seymour Roseblade in the Leicester area in the 1960s.  Perhaps they're boats from that fleet. If so, the motor could be 'Neptune'.

These are not Seymour-Roseblade boats as they did not run a large Woolwich motor or a large Ricky butty.

 

Interestingly the motor does not have the additional guards on the fore end, usually under the fore end top bends :captain: 

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6 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

These are not Seymour-Roseblade boats as they did not run a large Woolwich motor or a large Ricky butty.

 

Interestingly the motor does not have the additional guards on the fore end, usually under the fore end top bends :captain: 

Given that there are three women at the back of the boats is it possible that it is a wartime photo - did the idle women run such a combination? I seem to recall that in one of the books timber to Leicester was mentioned as a load - possibly Emma Smiths book.

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9 minutes ago, Richard T said:

Given that there are three women at the back of the boats is it possible that it is a wartime photo - did the idle women run such a combination? I seem to recall that in one of the books timber to Leicester was mentioned as a load - possibly Emma Smiths book.

Well I am currently unable to identify whether these boats are under the ownership of G.U.C.C.Co. Ltd. or 'British Waterways', and until I can I am unable to comment further :captain:

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21 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

Interestingly the motor does not have the additional guards on the fore end, usually under the fore end top bends :captain: 

Do we know over what rough range of dates those got added.

 

There are of course several "Towns" that never acquired them.

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1 minute ago, alan_fincher said:

Do we know over what rough range of dates those got added.

 

There are of course several "Towns" that never acquired them.

Not knowing when the extra guards were fitted makes dating this image almost impossible, and as you say there are a few boats that did not get these at all. My understanding is that they were fitted during the 1950's :captain:

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7 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

 

 

Interestingly the motor does not have the additional guards on the fore end, usually under the fore end top bends :captain: 

Which , as far as I know, were a waterways addition. I think it is likely that this is in the GUCCC era, if it is waterways it must be fairly early, I wouldn’t doubt 1940’s myself. The motor still has a full size breastwood, the later Waterways replacement ones stopped further forwards, with the deck lid mounted on separate blocks of wood. 

 

The butty, seemingly still loaded, doesn’t have much weight in it, but it must have taken a long time to unload if they are doing it one stick at a time

13 minutes ago, Richard T said:

Given that there are three women at the back of the boats is it possible that it is a wartime photo - did the idle women run such a combination? I seem to recall that in one of the books timber to Leicester was mentioned as a load - possibly Emma Smiths book.

Kit Gayford did have a big Woolwich with a big Ricky butty - Battersea and Uttoxeter, but I am not suggesting that is what they are. Has anyone else noticed the poser in the motor’s back end?

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Just now, pete harrison said:

Not knowing when the extra guards were fitted makes dating this image almost impossible, and as you say there are a few boats that did not get these at all. My understanding is that they were fitted during the 1950's :captain:

Yes, I would have thought 1950s as well for the  extra guards being added.  I also think boats not acquiring them tended to be ones not actually on the carrying fleet, (or am I wrong?).  So I'm tending towards it probably being very early British Transport (Waterways) days, or even slightly earlier.  I don't think it is wartime "Trainees", as there appears to be a male crew member with the two women.

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34 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

Yes, I would have thought 1950s as well for the  extra guards being added.  I also think boats not acquiring them tended to be ones not actually on the carrying fleet, (or am I wrong?). 

As far as I can determine the large Woolwich Grand Union motors that were not fitted with extra guards are:

 

BATH

BEXHILL

BILSTER

BOGNOR

CALDY ?

CAMBOURNE

DARLEY

DUNSTABLE

EDGWARE

EPSOM

 

But it is tricky to be absolute as finding good quality period photographs of fore ends that are still identifiable is rare :captain:

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9 hours ago, Steve Priest said:

Kit Gayford did have a big Woolwich with a big Ricky butty - Battersea and Uttoxeter, but I am not suggesting that is what they are. 

I think that is quite likely.  Three young(ish) women on the boats and their relative untidiness suggest this but I’ve also noticed that the motor’s chimney has only 2 brass rings something apparently seen on the women’s boats and which has been suggested indicated that they are trainees.  Indeed a similar or perhaps the same chimney can be seen on Uttoxeter in pictures from the time.

 

I suspect the man standing on the gunnel is from the timber yard and is chatting up “the girls.”

 

Paul

5AE46575-DA06-48C8-ABE6-E9D1E1277716.jpeg

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8 hours ago, pete harrison said:

As far as I can determine the large Woolwich Grand Union motors that were not fitted with extra guards are:

 

BATH

BEXHILL

BILSTER

BOGNOR

CALDY ?

CAMBOURNE

DARLEY

DUNSTABLE

EDGWARE

EPSOM

 

But it is tricky to be absolute as finding good quality period photographs of fore ends that are still identifiable is rare :captain:

Looks about right from my memories, but CALDY I have no idea about.

I can certainly easily find pictures for BATH, BEXHILL, BILSTER, CAMBOURNE DARLEY & EDGWARE.

It hadn't occurred to me before that three of those that went to Union Canal Carriers were without the guards, (BEXHILL, BILSTER and EDGWARE).

So were there no Northwich "Towns" that didn't get them?  It appears probably not?

And buttys?

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46 minutes ago, Paul H said:

I think that is quite likely.  Three young(ish) women on the boats and their relative untidiness suggest this but I’ve also noticed that the motor’s chimney has only 2 brass rings something apparently seen on the women’s boats and which has been suggested indicated that they are trainees.  Indeed a similar or perhaps the same chimney can be seen on Uttoxeter in pictures from the time.

 

I suspect the man standing on the gunnel is from the timber yard and is chatting up “the girls.”

On balance,looking again, I think I could be persuaded it is crewed by women, and the chap on the gunwale is part of the wharf crew rather than the boat crew.


If it is the "trainees", who say much about learning their splicing skills, they need to work on that rope that is tying the two front ends together - that looks more in keeping with BW maintenance boats from the1970s onwards!

I'm genuinely surprised how high the butty is floating with that much timber still loaded - I guess being a wooden boat helps with that.

It is a fascinating and very atmospheric picture, and brings home the labour intensive non mechanised handling of cargoes such as timber at the smaller canal-side wharfs.

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I wonder if the Leicester Mercury could provide a higher resolution copy of the picture in which the writing on the motor cabin side is legible.

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From what is seen in the image, I would be inclined to agree with Paul. The woodyard men are making use of an 'opportunity'.

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12 hours ago, zenataomm said:

I'd have thought they were the 'Tipit', the narrow heavy duty roll that runs along over the top cloth on top of the plank.

Too big for the tippets, and you wouldn't use those without the topcloths.....

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11 hours ago, Richard T said:

I have found an aerial view of Gimsons timber yard off Upperton Road but I'm not convinced it is where the first photo was taken because the yard is towpath side and in the original it is offside. In the new photo you can see Freemans weir and lock and the site of where the football stadium now is.

 

 

I have done some further research and the only canal side timber yard I can find in Leicseter is on Pasture Lane. Whilst the buildings have changed this locations fits as there is an over bridge from which the original photo could have been taken. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17&lat=52.64230&lon=-1.13769&layers=168&right=BingHyb

It’s definitely Gimson’s yard in the original because it says so in big letters on the side of the shed.

 

I took the person stood on the gunwale of the motor to be one of the boat crew and it isn’t obvious to me that it’s a man.

 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg

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1 hour ago, Captain Pegg said:

I took the person stood on the gunwale of the motor to be one of the boat crew and it isn’t obvious to me that it’s a man.

 

JP

I'd agree, there's something about the stance, and the jaunty angle of the cap, and she(?) is certainly not dressed like the men doing the unloading - the 'Idle Women' did use a lot of what was then normally considered men's clothing.

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