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Railway Company Narrow Boat Liveries


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The whimsical fashion of painting boats in the ornate livery styles of historical railway locomotives and coaches was discussed in another topic but has anyone ever determined what the genuine historical colour schemes were for boats owned and operated by railway companies prior to them being taken over by British Waterways in the 1950s? I am certain that this subject was never a very high priority for the railways themeselve or for railway historians but it would be nice to know how the railway companies painted and decorated their inland waterways boats.

The main companies involved would have been:

British Railways - 1948 to 1954

Great Western Railway - until the 1947

London Midland & Scottish Railway - 1923 to 1947

Midland Railway - until 1923

London North Western Railway - until 1923

London & North Eastern Railway - 1923 to 1947

Great Central Railway (previously Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway) - until 1923

There are probably others but the above are most likely the major players.

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There have been previous threads on this. The consensus is that railway owned canal boats would have been painted in similar manner to their utilitarian wheeled equivalents - railway wagons. So typically plain grey with the company's initials and a fleet number, and not much more. Certainly not in the livery of the companys' finest and fastest locomotives, as is seen now.

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46 minutes ago, NB Alnwick said:

The whimsical fashion of painting boats in the ornate livery styles of historical railway locomotives and coaches was discussed in another topic but has anyone ever determined what the genuine historical colour schemes were for boats owned and operated by railway companies prior to them being taken over by British Waterways in the 1950s? I am certain that this subject was never a very high priority for the railways themeselve or for railway historians but it would be nice to know how the railway companies painted and decorated their inland waterways boats.

The main companies involved would have been:

British Railways - 1948 to 1954

Great Western Railway - until the 1947

London Midland & Scottish Railway - 1923 to 1947

Midland Railway - until 1923

London North Western Railway - until 1923

London & North Eastern Railway - 1923 to 1947

Great Central Railway (previously Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway) - until 1923

There are probably others but the above are most likely the major players.

I have a few picture of railway boats in their recent liveries on my Hiatoric Narrow Boat Site, how accurate they are I would not know!

 

London Midland & Scottish Railway (timshistoricnarrowboatphotos.uk)

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I agree that it is most likely that these boats were regarded as purely utilitarian and most probably carried dull paintwork that was not intended to be as attractive as the passenger fleet.

What is surprising is that so many of these boats have survived but unlike most other areas of railway history there are few accurate models, photographs or paintings to give us an insight into how they looked in the days when they were owned and operated by the railways.

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I’ve got before pictures of Mecca. Not much to see. Bare hull black tar and rust.

These boats are a representation of something that never was. Even  with Sandbach  difficult to know..

They are all something which they never were. Mecca was wonderfully over the top, especially inside , because you could do no wrong. Blank canvas for Simon Wains talents.

  • Greenie 1
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These two photographs from Twells' "LMS Miscellany Vol 1" were clearly posed for the official photographer and knowing the practices that were current, it is quite likely that the images were artistically enhanced - for example two of the boats shown at Albion Wharf appear to have had their non-LMS owner's names painted out!

LMS Boat 62.jpg

LMS Boat 102.jpg

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In 1935, the LMS employed over 700 "canal workers" - unlike the other railway grades, I have found no available breakdown of how or where these were employed nor have I been able to determine just how many boats they operated. The numbers allocated to the boats in these images indicate that it is possible that there were at least a hundred boats operated by the LMS at one time or another.

There is much more information available about other aspects of the LMS operations.

For example we know from contemporary publications that the LMS operated the largest hotel chain in Europe with more than 40 hotels in the early 1930s. The company employed over 200,000 staff and claimed to be the largest commercial undertaking in the British Empire. We also know that they kept detailed records of everything they made or purchased - such items almost always signwritten, stamped or engraved with the initials LMS and a serial number - these ranged from simple Guards Whistles and station barrows to road vehicles, locomotives and rolling stock. So why the lack of information about their narrow boats? It is my belief that such information that did exist must have been inherited by British Waterways

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Such information as existed in the pre-nationalisation railway companies was first inherited  by BR.  Whether and when or how it was transferred to  DIWE I do not know.  Certainly it took some time for BR to sort out and transfer the railway owned canals, but they all made it to DIWE ( Oh, do we get those as well?)  eventually and then on to BWB.  Whether a thorough examination of the big fours archives was conducted I would doubt.  Much easier to send the more easily separated engineering drawings  and the high level Management Minutes than to worry about the detail of boats.

 

That said, it probably was not just ditched either, so may well be hiding in some dusty BR residuary archive.

 

N

 

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1 hour ago, NB Alnwick said:

 The company employed over 200,000 staff and claimed to be the largest commercial undertaking in the British Empire. We also know that they kept detailed records of everything they made or purchased - such items almost always signwritten, stamped or engraved with the initials LMS and a serial number - these ranged from simple Guards Whistles and station barrows to road vehicles, locomotives and rolling stock. So why the lack of information about their narrow boats? It is my belief that such information that did exist must have been inherited by British Waterways

I have a shunters horn which was stamped with LNER but unfortunately a previous owner ground out most of the logo, the L and R are just decipherable. These horns have a canal connection, photo 2. What I also found interesting the were use by the army in WW1, picture 3 from Hooge Crater Museum, Belgium.

s-l1600c.jpg

18839370_1933588253553828_5875923546374873189_n.jpg

DSCF3314.JPG

DSCF3371.JPG

Edited by Ray T
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