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Old WW - surprising advert


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Earliet today I posted a pic of the first Waterways World - Spring 1972 edition, with an advert for Whilton Marine on the back. I've just spent a pleasant hour looking through some of the earliest issues. 

 

In the November Issue two adverts caught my eye - there were only three classified ads for hire boats, one on the Coventry, one near Chester, and the third was from Belmont Hire Cruisers, who claimed to have bases in Oxford, Northampton and Uxbridge. One needed to write to an address in Harrow, for a brochure, but the ad also gives a phone number with an "ansafone" - presumably in 1972 such devices were not common.

 

But the one that intrigues me is under businesses for sale: where a hire fleet with bookings is advertises - the fleet consists of two Dawncraft and they come with three crescent outboards and spares.... £3,400, hp arranged postal address in Harrow (a different one from Belmont Hire Cruisers, so it wasn't them)

 

I feel I might be spending more evenings like this - isn't this how obsessions start? 

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13 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

It's probably sold by now. :D

 

Indeed! But I think my point was more that two GRP cruisers and three outboards between them constituted a hire boat business, there weren't even any premises associated with the deal. There is some fascinating stuff on hire boats in these magazines, I'll probably carry on posting bits in this thread if people can bear to put up with me doing so. My memory of Hire boats of the period (I was six in 1972) was the wooden ex working boats of Alan Tingay at Shackerstone and then the steel narrowboats (I think with wooden cabins) from Haskayne on the L&L. I knew some companies used GRP cruisers as I recall seeing one or two in orange livery on the Llangollen, being hired from Whitchurch I think, but there seems to have been rather more than I realised judging by the adverts and the boat reviews of the period.

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We have a couple of early Canals Book, the go-to guide with hand drawn maps. These are, I think, slightly older that your WW - our first hire was in 1967. We also used the early Nicholsons of the time with their idiosyncratic straight line format. Some of the ads are odd reminders of times long gone.

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16 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

Earliet today I posted a pic of the first Waterways World - Spring 1972 edition, with an advert for Whilton Marine on the back. I've just spent a pleasant hour looking through some of the earliest issues. 

 

In the November Issue two adverts caught my eye - there were only three classified ads for hire boats, one on the Coventry, one near Chester, and the third was from Belmont Hire Cruisers, who claimed to have bases in Oxford, Northampton and Uxbridge. One needed to write to an address in Harrow, for a brochure, but the ad also gives a phone number with an "ansafone" - presumably in 1972 such devices were not common.

 

But the one that intrigues me is under businesses for sale: where a hire fleet with bookings is advertises - the fleet consists of two Dawncraft and they come with three crescent outboards and spares.... £3,400, hp arranged postal address in Harrow (a different one from Belmont Hire Cruisers, so it wasn't them)

 

I feel I might be spending more evenings like this - isn't this how obsessions start? 

 

About a decade ago one of my wife's best buys at a car boot sale was complete bound sets of 1972 (quarterly issue) and 1973 (monthly issue) Waterwsys World magazines for 50p. 

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21 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

Earliet today I posted a pic of the first Waterways World - Spring 1972 edition, with an advert for Whilton Marine on the back. I've just spent a pleasant hour looking through some of the earliest issues. 

 

In the November Issue two adverts caught my eye - there were only three classified ads for hire boats, one on the Coventry, one near Chester, and the third was from Belmont Hire Cruisers, who claimed to have bases in Oxford, Northampton and Uxbridge. One needed to write to an address in Harrow, for a brochure, but the ad also gives a phone number with an "ansafone" - presumably in 1972 such devices were not common.

 

But the one that intrigues me is under businesses for sale: where a hire fleet with bookings is advertises - the fleet consists of two Dawncraft and they come with three crescent outboards and spares.... £3,400, hp arranged postal address in Harrow (a different one from Belmont Hire Cruisers, so it wasn't them)

 

I feel I might be spending more evenings like this - isn't this how obsessions start? 

 

Until a few years ago there was a major wholesaler of Canal related books and gifts in Harrow called Belmont Press, any connection?

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1 hour ago, Tim Lewis said:

 

Until a few years ago there was a major wholesaler of Canal related books and gifts in Harrow called Belmont Press, any connection?

Belmont Press clearly existed at some time as it comes up in a couple go Google entries both with an address in Tenby Av, Harrow. Street View reveals this address as an anonymous semi - interesting to look back to the earlier images and see that the same wrecked car has been there a long time! 

 

One listing gives aa website but that no longer exists. However Google 'Belmont 1948' shows that it is still an active company at this address but with minimal turnover. It was incorporated in 1973 as Belmont Hire Cruisers. John and Anne Lawes seem to be the main people.

Edited by Mike Todd
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Hi Patrick. Thank you for starting this thread as I also find the history of the canal hire industry fascinating.

I collected a lot of hire boat brochures in the '80's and still have them.

I think the fact that there were only three ads for hire companies in the first WW is more to do with the infancy of WW -there were certainly a reasonable number of firms in business by 1972, and if you look in later issues the number of ads is much more.

I'm fairly certain that Belmont Press and Belmont Hire Cruisers were the same company. Although Belmont may have owned a small number of boats themselves, they were primarily a booking agency. I have one or two of their brochures somewhere -I will dig them out when I have a chance.

You also mention the boats of Alan Tingay. He started hiring in the early 60's, and the firm became Anker Valley Cruises, later shortened to Valley Cruises, which as you probably know only went out of business about 18 months ago, so was one of the longest lasting hire firms.

 

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For clarity - I was drawing attention to the classified ads only, and referring to the November 1972 issue of WW, mainly because of the business for sale ad. 

 

The very first issue, "Spring 1972" has seven "proper" adverts for hire boats on the canal network along with Caley Cruisers on the Caledonian and an advert for Hoseasons. The seven include names still familiar - Teddlesey, Willow Wren and Shropshire Union Cruisers of Norbury, and the only one I don't recognise at all is Admiral Line of Uxbridge. There are two in the classifieds - Belmont and one that is obviously Eggbridge (who went bust in about 1984?) - there are only seven classified ads in total. two boats for sale, two hire businesses and three canal/boat societies, as @John Brightley suggests, probably because it was the first issue. 

 

The Spring edition tells you what's coming up in the Summer edition, and gives a press deadline for it - the Summer edition never happened, the next one was October as they went monthly.

37 minutes ago, John Brightley said:

Hi Patrick. Thank you for starting this thread as I also find the history of the canal hire industry fascinating.

I collected a lot of hire boat brochures in the '80's and still have them.

Glad you share my interest and hold onto those brochures! They're gold dust for research like this! 

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11 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

the Summer edition never happened, the next one was October as they went monthly.

Better than some magazines where the next edition never happened... ever ...

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12 hours ago, John Brightley said:

You also mention the boats of Alan Tingay. He started hiring in the early 60's, and the firm became Anker Valley Cruises, later shortened to Valley Cruises, which as you probably know only went out of business about 18 months ago, so was one of the longest lasting hire firms

Magpie and I went with our parent on "Anker" and "Joanna" - I'll see if I've any 35mm film anywhere...

 

On one occasion on leaving the boat Alan had all the deck boards up as I'd been playing with lego on the back deck and some of it had fallen down the (quite long) slot where the gear lever went...

 

On another, Dad had turned the radio on in the car as we approached Atherstone. It was valve(!!) and hadn't warmed up and produced sound when we got to the boatyard so he didn't turn it off. Alan jump started the car for us to go home

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In 1990 Belmont Hire Cruisers filed a change to its Memorandum of Association to delete its existing clauses to two new ones that described general trading (including import/export) and financial advice.

 

The documents for the next five years do not seem to be available on line but when they next appear in 1995 the company had changed its name to Belmont (1948)

 

In 1996 it submitted slightly fuller accounts which include a statement that it paid a director £217.50 in royalties (£91.50 in 1995)

 

In 2001 Naomi Ruth Elizabeth Morris of Devizes became a director (I think I saw here signature on a document a bit earlier) Ian Martin Luscombe, an original very minority shareholder, continued as director along with John Lawes.

 

In 2006 John Lawes states his occupation as Director Folk/Square Dance cal and in 2007 Anne Vivian Joy Lawes as Company Secretary from the outset described herself as an audiologist

 

In the list of shareholders in 2009, Mark Aldred John Lawes, an IT Consultant DOB 1954, from Sutton in Ashfield Nottinghamshire became a director and shareholder and Ian Luscombe seems to have ceased to be a shareholder.

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15 hours ago, John Brightley said:

 

You also mention the boats of Alan Tingay. He started hiring in the early 60's, and the firm became Anker Valley Cruises, later shortened to Valley Cruises, which as you probably know only went out of business about 18 months ago, so was one of the longest lasting hire firms.

 

That's very interesting. We moored at Springwood Haven for some years and knew the Wagstaffs and their hire fleet. We knew that it had formerly been based on the outskirts of Atherstone, but had no idea that the Wags hadn't founded it.

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(Back to looking at the company's returns after another interruption!)

 

In 2014, John Lawes changed his occupation to Company Director, presumably having given up his folk dancing. His DOB is 17 Jan 1929 so now well into his nineties.

 

The latest return was last September showing a small scale activity. It describes its business as 'book distributing and associated activities.' It had trade creditors over £53K but its stock of finished goods was valued at £13K and shows a deficit on the Profit and Loss account for the year of £17K.

 

All of this probably holds an interesting personal story which is not revealed directly in the finances. Clearly the company cannot continue to trade much longer on this basis - it has a  negative balance sheet and is making current losses. I guess that Mark Lawes is the son of Anne and John who are now well past normal retirement. Perhaps Mark is unwilling to close the business out of respect to his father. It seems possible that they have quite a stock of books from earlier years and Mark is trying to sell them off, from his address in Nottingham, as and when it is possible, but I have yet to see any promotion of them. He obviously makes his living elsewhere.

 

Street View of the Harrow address does not show a brilliant image with two unused vehicles left on the drive for some time. However the address Mark gives is a small detached property with no evidence of business activity.

 

There is a Belmont Press in Northampton - commercial printers with no apparent connection with Belmont (1948)

 

The book depository website does show Belmont Press as having published a number of canal maps and books, none of those listed currently available. But it does show that John Lawes published the Belmont Guide to Inland Waterway Activities in 1976. The pennine waterways website shop includes a map of part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal but no longer available. The Book Depository list includes several interesting books about canal history such as the amateur Boatwoman by Ellie Gayford and several by Alan H Faulkner. Most of these when on Amazon, Abe etc all seem to have been listed with other publishers. Did John Lawes gradually sell off his list?

 

All of this took me on an interesting search (solely on Google alas) but it raises more questions than it answers and I am sure that there is possible an interesting story here if only someone can tell it.

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9 hours ago, Mike Todd said:

(Back to looking at the company's returns after another interruption!)

 

In 2014, John Lawes changed his occupation to Company Director, presumably having given up his folk dancing. His DOB is 17 Jan 1929 so now well into his nineties.

 

The latest return was last September showing a small scale activity. It describes its business as 'book distributing and associated activities.' It had trade creditors over £53K but its stock of finished goods was valued at £13K and shows a deficit on the Profit and Loss account for the year of £17K.

 

All of this probably holds an interesting personal story which is not revealed directly in the finances. Clearly the company cannot continue to trade much longer on this basis - it has a  negative balance sheet and is making current losses. I guess that Mark Lawes is the son of Anne and John who are now well past normal retirement. Perhaps Mark is unwilling to close the business out of respect to his father. It seems possible that they have quite a stock of books from earlier years and Mark is trying to sell them off, from his address in Nottingham, as and when it is possible, but I have yet to see any promotion of them. He obviously makes his living elsewhere.

 

Street View of the Harrow address does not show a brilliant image with two unused vehicles left on the drive for some time. However the address Mark gives is a small detached property with no evidence of business activity.

 

There is a Belmont Press in Northampton - commercial printers with no apparent connection with Belmont (1948)

 

The book depository website does show Belmont Press as having published a number of canal maps and books, none of those listed currently available. But it does show that John Lawes published the Belmont Guide to Inland Waterway Activities in 1976. The pennine waterways website shop includes a map of part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal but no longer available. The Book Depository list includes several interesting books about canal history such as the amateur Boatwoman by Ellie Gayford and several by Alan H Faulkner. Most of these when on Amazon, Abe etc all seem to have been listed with other publishers. Did John Lawes gradually sell off his list?

 

All of this took me on an interesting search (solely on Google alas) but it raises more questions than it answers and I am sure that there is possible an interesting story here if only someone can tell it.

We at Audlem Mill (CanalBookShop) still buy books wholesale from John Lawes at Belmont in Harrow, and in fact we are now the sole trade distributors for the ten books in the Working Waterways series to which he has the publishing rights (e.g. Idle Women, Maidens' Trip, Troubled Waters) - which we have listed on Amazon -  and the Robert Wilson series (e.g. FMC, The George & The Mary) - most of which we have on Amazon.  He still operates Belmont (1948) from his house in Harrow, where he has lived for decades. (Note that he has traded as The Belmont Press, also for decades, but is not connected to the printing company with the same name in Northampton.)

John is 92 tomorrow, and is naturally slowing down and doing less - which is why we now distribute some of the poular titles for him.  And just to clarify, Mark is John's son, but Anne is his daughter.

 

And it was John who ran a canal holiday booking service in, I believe, the 1960s-80s, and who had a small hire fleet.  To my knowledge, John has been involved with canals since about WW2, and he was one of the earliest IWA members.  He was also a keen folk dancer and barn dance caller, and is still involved with a model railway society.

 

I must confirm that the business is still very much in John's hands, and is fully operational (apart from any delays caused by COVID).

 

Peter Silvester

Edited by Hastings
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14 hours ago, Hastings said:

We at Audlem Mill (CanalBookShop) still buy books wholesale from John Lawes at Belmont in Harrow, and in fact we are now the sole trade distributors for the ten books in the Working Waterways series to which he has the publishing rights (e.g. Idle Women, Maidens' Trip, Troubled Waters) - which we have listed on Amazon -  and the Robert Wilson series (e.g. FMC, The George & The Mary) - most of which we have on Amazon.  He still operates Belmont (1948) from his house in Harrow, where he has lived for decades. (Note that he has traded as The Belmont Press, also for decades, but is not connected to the printing company with the same name in Northampton.)

John is 92 tomorrow, and is naturally slowing down and doing less - which is why we now distribute some of the poular titles for him.  And just to clarify, Mark is John's son, but Anne is his daughter.

 

And it was John who ran a canal holiday booking service in, I believe, the 1960s-80s, and who had a small hire fleet.  To my knowledge, John has been involved with canals since about WW2, and he was one of the earliest IWA members.  He was also a keen folk dancer and barn dance caller, and is still involved with a model railway society.

 

I must confirm that the business is still very much in John's hands, and is fully operational (apart from any delays caused by COVID).

 

Peter Silvester

Thank you for that - as I said, the dry details of company accounts often point to an interesting story and anyone who can share more of John Lawes' history would be welcome (at least to me!) Interestingly, the one major incorrect assumption I made was about Anne but that was because she was never a director but only the Company Secretary. As far as I can see, DOB is required for directors but not for Company Secretaries or shareholders!

 

Some of the online listing are, I think, a bot fluid about who is the actual publisher - I failed to discover that Robert Wilson was within the John Lawes stable. Some of the books listed by Book Depository as from Belmont are elsewhere given as published by others including some I saw as David and Charles.

 

I do have some the titles - eg Idle Woman - but they are all on the boat so I could not look them up directly. May be one day . . .  keep dreaming of better days!

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From my collection of (PDF's) Blakes Norfolk broads holiday brochures.

 

Sea Zephyr was the first boat we ever holidayed on in 1969. I notice the brochure doesn't mention the concrete (seacrete) hull, I guess it might have put people off......

 

It's amazing how many yards have come and gone over the intervening years, some being swallowed up into large corporations. Virtually all were family owned/small independents back then.

 

 

 

 

Blakes 1.JPG

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20 hours ago, Hastings said:

We at Audlem Mill (CanalBookShop) still buy books wholesale from John Lawes at Belmont in Harrow, and in fact we are now the sole trade distributors for the ten books in the Working Waterways series to which he has the publishing rights (e.g. Idle Women, Maidens' Trip, Troubled Waters) - which we have listed on Amazon -  and the Robert Wilson series (e.g. FMC, The George & The Mary) - most of which we have on Amazon.  He still operates Belmont (1948) from his house in Harrow, where he has lived for decades. (Note that he has traded as The Belmont Press, also for decades, but is not connected to the printing company with the same name in Northampton.)

John is 92 tomorrow, and is naturally slowing down and doing less - which is why we now distribute some of the poular titles for him.  And just to clarify, Mark is John's son, but Anne is his daughter.

 

And it was John who ran a canal holiday booking service in, I believe, the 1960s-80s, and who had a small hire fleet.  To my knowledge, John has been involved with canals since about WW2, and he was one of the earliest IWA members.  He was also a keen folk dancer and barn dance caller, and is still involved with a model railway society.

 

I must confirm that the business is still very much in John's hands, and is fully operational (apart from any delays caused by COVID).

 

Peter Silvester

Hi Peter. Thanks for letting everyone know about this. It is very good to hear that John Lawes is still active, and it occurs to me he must have a few tales to tell. Perhaps you can encourage him to write a book about his own experiences - or at least record a few notes for future generations !

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Pluto's BWB list must be early 70s as it still shows Maid Line at Stretton Stop - Rose took it over in 1972 - and a host of other names who were well established by 1980 in this area aren't on there.

Edited by Rose Narrowboats
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7 minutes ago, Rose Narrowboats said:

Plutos' BWB list must be early 70s as it still shows Maid Line at Stretton Stop - Rose took it over in 1972 - and a host of other names who were well established by 1980 in this area aren't on there.

The earliest it can be is 1969 as that's when Concoform started hiring at Weedon.

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