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WW2 narrowboats


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Started reading the NBT website and noticed that their boats were manufactured in the mid 30's this means that during the second world war they must have been working or the metal would have been used for other things. Is there any good websites about the use of narrowboats during WW2, I did a search but all I could find was a reference to women working the boats but not much more.

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A good place to start is Susan Woolfit's Idle Women for a first hand account of canal transport during the war.

 

There's also The Amateur Boatwomen by Eily Gayford, Emma Smith's Maidens' Trip and Margaret Cornish's Troubled Waters. All these women were involved in working the boats during the war but the last two are more personal than historical.

 

I have some printed stuff that I downloaded a few years ago but the website no longer seems to be available. Books are probably your best bet, anything on line will probably have been culled from the few published accounts anyway.

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There's a film called Painted Boats that was made in 1945 that uses clips of the cut around that time period. Rather dated by today's standards but does give you an idea of what it must have been like at that time. It out on DVD now and here's a link to it on Amazon

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This is a series of very interesting articles;

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/06/a4060306.shtml

 

 

There are 8 articles, this is the first. Let me know if you have trouble locating the rest - it didn't seem obvious from the site where to find the other parts of this series.

Oh blimey, I'm going to have to rearrange all my cupboards now. :lol:

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  • 5 weeks later...

Started reading the NBT website and noticed that their boats were manufactured in the mid 30's this means that during the second world war they must have been working or the metal would have been used for other things. Is there any good websites about the use of narrowboats during WW2, I did a search but all I could find was a reference to women working the boats but not much more.

The WoW website http://www.wow4water.net should have something soon, but they don't seem to have it linked correctly yet. I also wrote an article about wartime canals in general for Vol 5 of Waterways Journal, available from The Boat Museum Society.

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The WoW website http://www.wow4water.net should have something soon, but they don't seem to have it linked correctly yet. I also wrote an article about wartime canals in general for Vol 5 of Waterways Journal, available from The Boat Museum Society.

There certainly should be something on the WoW site, but as Pluto says, there does appear to be a problem with it.

As usual, the Government had forgotten the canals at the outbreak of war. When they realised that they needed raw materials to be moved in quantity and that the railways couldn't cope, the situation had been worsened by several boaters volunteering for the Armed Forces. This left many of the new boats, both wood and metal standing idle. Various attempts were made to find extra crews, but the original GUCCC expansion had not recognised the shortage. A number of the small Northwich motors were hired by the London Fire Brigade as pump boats, with several being used in the Greenford area. At least 2 were hired by the Ministry of War. Up to 15 pairs were crewed by volunteers, mainly but not exclusively women, and several of the new boats were left as spare to be used as and when crews were available or another was damaged or unuseable.

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There certainly should be something on the WoW site, but as Pluto says, there does appear to be a problem with it.

As usual, the Government had forgotten the canals at the outbreak of war. When they realised that they needed raw materials to be moved in quantity and that the railways couldn't cope, the situation had been worsened by several boaters volunteering for the Armed Forces. This left many of the new boats, both wood and metal standing idle. Various attempts were made to find extra crews, but the original GUCCC expansion had not recognised the shortage. A number of the small Northwich motors were hired by the London Fire Brigade as pump boats, with several being used in the Greenford area. At least 2 were hired by the Ministry of War. Up to 15 pairs were crewed by volunteers, mainly but not exclusively women, and several of the new boats were left as spare to be used as and when crews were available or another was damaged or unuseable.

 

London Fire Service records indicate 7 Small Northwich motors, 3 Middle Northwich motors, 5 Small Woolwich motors and 6 Large Ricky buttys. These are the ones I can name for certain, but there may have been more !

 

There were also a number requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport for there own use.

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  • 3 weeks later...

London Fire Service records indicate 7 Small Northwich motors, 3 Middle Northwich motors, 5 Small Woolwich motors and 6 Large Ricky buttys. These are the ones I can name for certain, but there may have been more !

 

There were also a number requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport for there own use.

 

My father was in the Auxiliary Fire Service during the war, and one of the few things he told me about it was that he was involved in loading fire pumps into Narrow Boats to take into Coventry during the Blitz. I never got any more details from him.

I wonder whose boats they might have been.

 

Tim

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  • 9 years later...
On 17/09/2010 at 19:25, pete harrison said:

 

London Fire Service records indicate 7 Small Northwich motors, 3 Middle Northwich motors, 5 Small Woolwich motors and 6 Large Ricky buttys. These are the ones I can name for certain, but there may have been more !

 

There were also a number requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport for there own use.

I have been told that my boat a Charlie Hill sevener was a London fire boat but I carnt find any info on this 

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When I was putting together Part II of the Midland Canal Carriers CD, I did come across the problem of finding information about WW2 and it was clear that once there was a government control, the boats were moved about on routes different to their prewar existence. The person responsible for Government control was Frank Pick and he deserves much more credit than what has been said about him.

 

 

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