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John Brightley

Ashton Canal at Ashton, 1981

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5 hours ago, pete harrison said:

I have never heard the term 'Runcorn Header' to describe these boats that were unique to the north western waterways - well not until this thread.

 

I have heard them called 'Runcorn Boat', 'Bridgewater Boat', 'Simpson Davies' (a company based at Runcorn) and 'Wooden Header', the last of which is the most miss-leading as I understand the header is a reference to the large wooden post built into the stern end and fore deck and is in common with some day boats on the B.C.N. and many of the narrow boats operating on the River Severn, although those on the River Severn are generally known as 'Severner'. 

 

These north western boats are very distinctive as they were huge, in so much that they had a very deep hold (six planks I believe) and a very shallow cabin, along with their headers at each end (as well as a T stud). The vast majority of these boats post 1877 appear on the Runcorn health register and Manchester health register, although much of the latter is incomplete. A handful of motors were later introduced to a similar overall design to the horse boats but with a sort of skirt built around to produce a counter whilst maintaining a horse boat type rudder - again quite unique to the north west. Clearly these boats played an important role as general cargo boats, being built locally and working locally throughout their commercial lives :captain:

 

I remember hearing them described simply as "six plankers", but I can't now remember when, where or by whom.

 

Didn't Charlie Aldrick own one back in the 70s, moored on the offside at Gas Street basin, in the days when the tow path on that side was closed off, and there was no through access?

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1 minute ago, David Mack said:

Didn't Charlie Aldrick own one back in the 70s, moored on the offside at Gas Street basin, in the days when the tow path on that side was closed off, and there was no through access?

Charlie Aldrick owned the 'Runcorn Header' motor RICHARD. I remember it was latterly at Hockley Port but I do not recall seeing it after about 1980 :captain:

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1 hour ago, Split Pin said:

Lock 1W on the huddersfield and the end of navigation at that time, the photographs were probably taken at the time of one of the tameside festivals, the second boat in the pictures is Pensax and is the same one as in post 8 by captain birdseye

704980582_OldPicks20728.jpg.e4d76e37d182811bc6da8c68c93175ba.jpg356041565_OldPicks20729.jpg.9848aca99cc149206199a41c885e0fe7.jpg902153313_OldPicks20732.jpg.c247946e1332bb910950a11d1d507a7f.jpg

The factory over the road in your first picture was Ira Stephens belt works.Makers of transmission leather belting for  the surrounding textile mills- all those 1000's of  Lancashire looms powered from overhead line shafting. They were still in business at the time of the photo.

The sheds in the second picture are the premises of Eli Whalley Co, famous for making "donkey stones" used all over the north for cleaning and colouring stone doorsteps. The site is now known as Donkeystone Wharf. In fact it was the original Ashton Canal wharf for the town, later replaced by Ashton New Wharf  and warehouse at Portland Basin in 1834.

The new building in the background is the Sea Cadet HQ, this built on the site of the MS&L Railway transhipment warehouse-serving the canal, the road (Wharf St) and the railway, interesting because the railway access was from the viaduct  into the upper level of the warehouse, destroyed by fire c1960.

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Several of the six-plankers can be seen here at the boatyard at Astley. The extension of the frames at bow and stern to form a bollard can be seen, and this system was used on many northern boats, particularly on wide boats. I have seen it on Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire boats. Often, the frame finished at the top of the top plank, and the timber head was bolted to its side, thus making it easier to replace. I have never heard of six-plankers being called 'Runcorn headers', though that is not confirmation of anything.

Astley Canal B&W@8x12.jpg

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Whilst there was an important barge traffic to Runcorn, the development of the narrow boat trade there appears to have provided business for the boat builders. An early carrier based at Runcorn was Crockett and Salkeld who trade passed to the Wolverhampton carrier, after 1830, Crowley & Co. Firms such a these were carriers along the Trent & Mersey between Runcorn and the Potteries and the West Midlands.

 

Could the genesis of the 6 planker be as a result of the Midland trade.

  

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I think it unlikely. Narrow boats with an extra plank would be for working on the deeper wide canals around Manchester, principally the Bridgewater, though also onto the L&LC for loading. Simpson Davies, who had many six-plankers, worked as far as Church on the L&LC, obviously with short narrow boats.

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On 15/06/2020 at 14:57, Heartland said:

Whilst there was an important barge traffic to Runcorn, the development of the narrow boat trade there appears to have provided business for the boat builders. An early carrier based at Runcorn was Crockett and Salkeld who trade passed to the Wolverhampton carrier, after 1830, Crowley & Co. Firms such a these were carriers along the Trent & Mersey between Runcorn and the Potteries and the West Midlands.

 

Could the genesis of the 6 planker be as a result of the Midland trade.

  

Presumably that would be this firm in 1832.

Crowley.jpg

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