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Looking for the boat I was born on - Sirius.


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I'm trying to track down an old working boat that I was born on in 1974 (well we were in Leamington Spa when mum had to dash off to the hospital to give birth)

I'm not a boater now but I was born onto the canals and spent my earliest years between Rickmansworth and the Midlands, and living at Braunston for a short time. My dad, Kim McGavin, ran coal up and down the GU on boats Grace (Originally no.88 of the Samual Barlow fleet), then Avon (?), then the boat I lived on, Sirius (Built in 1934 by Walker's of Rickmansworth), which is the boat I'm trying to track down if it's still afloat. He then switched to group tours on Hawksbury (which I believe is still around).

 

The photo attached here was a postcard made without mum's knowledge or permission (Braunston 1975) and was found much later by accident in a shop (surprise!) but it's where the information comes from, leading me to the Historic Narrow Boat club website. https://hnbc.org.uk/boats/sirius

 

So any information or leads on Sirius would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks, Joe

IMG_8484.jpeg

Edited by JoeSlow
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I can't help with Sirius but we bought Avon from Kim McGavin in 1975. This was in 1975 and she was in fairly poor condition but we needed a boat and so didn't haggle too much. Over the years we did a considerable amount of work on her including replanking and de-hogging. After we sold her she started the inevitable slide into wooden boat decrepitude with numerous owners doing little or no maintenance. It was finally broken up at Puttenham in lieu of monies owed.

AVONTREV (2).jpg

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1 hour ago, Derek R. said:

Last heard of on here as being at Jem Bate's boatyard at Puttenham three years ago:

 

Thank you Derek. This is a great lead. I don't think these two were together when we had them so I guess they were reunited. They seem to be a bit famous. Can you tell me why?

50 minutes ago, hughc said:

I can't help with Sirius but we bought Avon from Kim McGavin in 1975. This was in 1975 and she was in fairly poor condition but we needed a boat and so didn't haggle too much. Over the years we did a considerable amount of work on her including replanking and de-hogging. After we sold her she started the inevitable slide into wooden boat decrepitude with numerous owners doing little or no maintenance. It was finally broken up at Puttenham in lieu of monies owed.

AVONTREV (2).jpg

Wow. Thanks, that was very unexpected. Were you a haulage company or private?

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From Jem Bates website

A number of projects are usually run side by side. On site at the moment you will see a 1912 Ice Boat, Star Class Butty Sirius, Star Class Motor Mira,Big Ricky Butty Hagley, Motor Boat Dart. On the water you will see Prototype Motor Boat Venus, BCN Joey Boat Blackthorn Rose, Motor Boat Arcturus, Motor Dove and Severn, the Tug Carp and the motor Dragonfly. There are few other collections of boats that represent such a cross section of the wooden boat building era on our inland waterways and certainly fewer still that are being restored with such pace and efficiency.

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We currently own Hawkesbury and have done since 2013, it would be great to know more about the time spent in your Dad's hands as this period is missing from the folder of information we have.

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1 hour ago, JoeSlow said:

 

Wow. Thanks, that was very unexpected. Were you a haulage company or private?

We ran Avon privately as earning a living got in the way of anything else. Once we had raised our family we did run Meteor and Banstead with Wyrd as campers. Avon was a beautiful boat to steer, very fast and manouverable with a HB2 which had replaced to original Bolinder which I think had gone into Aster.  She was built, I believe,  up the Burslem Arm in 1943 and when empty always had a slight list which seemed to be built in.

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5 hours ago, hughc said:

I can't help with Sirius but we bought Avon from Kim McGavin in 1975. This was in 1975 and she was in fairly poor condition but we needed a boat and so didn't haggle too much. Over the years we did a considerable amount of work on her including replanking and de-hogging. After we sold her she started the inevitable slide into wooden boat decrepitude with numerous owners doing little or no maintenance. It was finally broken up at Puttenham in lieu of monies owed.

 

While I was at FBS at Foxton Locks in the mid 1980s Avon spent a winter at the yard. I had the job of modifying the sidecloths to make two short sections each side which could be removed as ways in and out for a towpath shop. But I can't any more tell you the owner's name at the time, or what he wanted to sell, or how he got on. I also had the job of running the (hand start) HB2 once a week to charge the battery for the automatic bilge pump.

 

Especially memorable for me was that the joins in the top planks didn't line up with the stands - I undid all the sidecloth strings and then cheerfully walked along the top planks, landing unceremoniously in the bottom of the hold under a shower of woodwork when I reached the first unsupported join. Happy days ...

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4 hours ago, BWM said:

We currently own Hawkesbury and have done since 2013, it would be great to know more about the time spent in your Dad's hands as this period is missing from the folder of information we have.

That's amazing - my expectation from this post have been blown out of the water.

I will talk to Kim and get back to you (like who he bought it from and sold it to) but what I do know is that he decked it out with bunks around 1976 and took groups of kids (scouts I think) on trips for £1 each per day. He also used it to pull other boats about between yards as they were being done up. They sold up and moved to Devon soon after, probably '77.

I believe my mum wanted to stay and live in Braunston but we went to Devon and the rest is history. I so easily could have had a very different childhood.

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I remember your parents at Braunston when they had Hawkesbury and it was at the same time 1974 that we brought Tadworth. Seem to recall that Kim did a trip on Tadworth. Hope they are both well.

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18 minutes ago, Dav and Pen said:

I remember your parents at Braunston when they had Hawkesbury and it was at the same time 1974 that we brought Tadworth. Seem to recall that Kim did a trip on Tadworth. Hope they are both well.

Hi. Thanks I'll pass this on :)

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, mark99 said:

I think the chap that last owned Sirius is a member on here. 

Thanks. I'll keep my fingers crossed he sees it.

Edited by JoeSlow
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17 hours ago, JoeSlow said:

That's amazing - my expectation from this post have been blown out of the water.

I will talk to Kim and get back to you (like who he bought it from and sold it to) but what I do know is that he decked it out with bunks around 1976 and took groups of kids (scouts I think) on trips for £1 each per day. He also used it to pull other boats about between yards as they were being done up. They sold up and moved to Devon soon after, probably '77.

I believe my mum wanted to stay and live in Braunston but we went to Devon and the rest is history. I so easily could have had a very different childhood.

So...

Hawkesbury was bought from a guy called Tom Lavender in 1975 and sold on to people (unknown) from Bournemouth in 1976. Kim says buying and selling boats then was like bicycles. They turned up handed over cash and took it away. Simples.

It was used with Sirius (butty) initially then Bingley where it had 12 bunks in each for 24 kids in total on boat trips.

Hawkesbury & Bingley were used in the making of The canal children series for the BBC, carrying cast and crew during filming. The boat seen in the series was Grace, my dad's first boat that was then owned by a guy called Tony. I have always thought this boat was Sirius but no so.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Update on Sirius: Found

 

Thanks to you all for helping me trace Sirius. I've just been on the phone to Jem Bates and yes, Arcturus and Sirius are both there so I am going to be able to go and visit my first home. I am really chuffed.

My question was why are these boats 'famous'? well they were prototypes of the Star class in 1934 and Jem has told me they are the last surviving original pair of wooden boats. He is holding onto them with an eye to renovation when possible. I will be providing him with photos and a little more info I have from the 70's to add to the boats provenance and known history - mainly pictures with me in :)

Thanks again

Joe

Edited by JoeSlow
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1 hour ago, JoeSlow said:

Update on Sirius: Found

 

Thanks to you all for helping me trace Sirius. I've just been on the phone to Jem Bates and yes, Arcturus and Sirius are both there so I am going to be able to go and visit my first home. I am really chuffed.

My question was why are these boats 'famous'? well they were prototypes of the Star class in 1934 and Jem has told me they are the last surviving original pair of wooden boats. He is holding onto them with an eye to renovation when possible. I will be providing him with photos and a little more info I have from the 70's to add to the boats provenance and known history - mainly pictures with me in :)

Thanks again

Joe

The ironwork for Avon is there as well.

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I'm glad you were successful with your search. Di and I knew Kim  - I believe it was when he was outside the Bell Punch Works in Uxbridge with Hawksbury where we too had our boats Towcester, Stamford and Bude for a few weeks. We did used to own the butty Bingley, but we can't recall if it was Kim we sold it to.

 

Tam

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21 hours ago, JoeSlow said:

So...

Hawkesbury was bought from a guy called Tom Lavender in 1975 and sold on to people (unknown) from Bournemouth in 1976. Kim says buying and selling boats then was like bicycles. They turned up handed over cash and took it away. Simples.

It was used with Sirius (butty) initially then Bingley where it had 12 bunks in each for 24 kids in total on boat trips.

Hawkesbury & Bingley were used in the making of The canal children series for the BBC, carrying cast and crew during filming. The boat seen in the series was Grace, my dad's first boat that was then owned by a guy called Tony. I have always thought this boat was Sirius but no so.

 

 

Thanks for the info, it is great to hear from someone associated with Hawkesbury in the past. 

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On 13/06/2021 at 12:24, JoeSlow said:

Update on Sirius: Found

 

Thanks to you all for helping me trace Sirius. I've just been on the phone to Jem Bates and yes, Arcturus and Sirius are both there so I am going to be able to go and visit my first home. I am really chuffed.

My question was why are these boats 'famous'? well they were prototypes of the Star class in 1934 and Jem has told me they are the last surviving original pair of wooden boats. He is holding onto them with an eye to renovation when possible. I will be providing him with photos and a little more info I have from the 70's to add to the boats provenance and known history - mainly pictures with me in :)

Thanks again

Joe

Hello Joe.

I believe that Sirius was sold to a guy called Tony Danial's in 1976 and I brought Sirius from him in 1978 where I then had her taken to Brentford where John Wooley rebuilt the stern 30ft then in 1989 I had the rest of the bottoms replace and the bottom strake and Kelson.  

I forwarded both Arcturus & Sirius to Jem Bates in 2010.

Mike Nicoll  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Arcturus was very well known in the 70's onwards as a guided day trip boat around Watford and Croxley. Operated by Bryan Nicholl iirc. 

Edited by mark99
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4 minutes ago, mark99 said:

Arcturus was very well known in the 70's onwards as a guided day trip boat around Watford and Croxley. Operated by Bryan Nicholl iirc. 

Arcturus did school Trips and Sunday afternoon Trips for the public also evening cruises for groups of people from 1959 - 1999, first on the river way in Guildford then eventually in Watford from the mid 60s but this topic is mainly to do with Sirius which I owned between 1978 & 2010.

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1 hour ago, mark99 said:

Arcturus was very well known in the 70's onwards as a guided day trip boat around Watford and Croxley. Operated by Bryan Nicholl iirc. 


 

 

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48 minutes ago, Tim Lewis said:


 

 

Hello Tim.

 

Thanks for sharing these great films, but does anyone have film or photos of Sirius in the 60s or 70s as I think that joe would be very interested in these, I know that I would be.

Mike.

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