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'Chocolate' Charlie Atkins

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Some one has asked me about 'Chocolate' Charlie Atkins when he lived in his old working boat at Preston Brook. What was name of his boat ?

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Some one has asked me about 'Chocolate' Charlie Atkins when he lived in his old working boat at Preston Brook. What was name of his boat ?

 

exFellows, Morton and Clayton Ltd., motor boat MENDIP. This boat is now an exhibit at Ellesmere Port.

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exFellows, Morton and Clayton Ltd., motor boat MENDIP. This boat is now an exhibit at Ellesmere Port.

Does it still have the Lister FR2 engine that was fitted in 1956?

 

MP.

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Does it still have the Lister FR2 engine that was fitted in 1956?

 

MP.

According to Matt Parrotts "Working Boats" site, yes, it does........

 

Linky

 

More info on the boat......

 

PDF Document link

Edited by alan_fincher
  • Greenie 1

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I knew Charlie, what a great bloke he was, the picture below shows him holding a model of a BCN tug I took to the 1972(/) Lymnn IWA rally. He was steering Lapwing then which is in the background.

Its a pity today some of the "teachers" we come across distort this mans life often telling kids he did nothing but carry chocolate to Cadburys, its so annoying, I often intervene and put them right! I learnt a lot from Charlie lets not see his life story corrupted.

 

gallery_5000_522_34175.jpg

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Where does the date of 1956 come from ?

It's mentioned in the entry for Mendip in the National Historic ships register.

 

MP.

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We used to share a basin with his daughter Vi and her husband Charlie (also of a boating family) They were two of the nicest people you could wish to meet. I learnt more about boating from that couple than anyone else. I wrote a profile of Chocolate Charlie from conversations with Vi. (I wonder if I still have it?) Sadly Charlie passed on in the 1990's there were too many mourners for the church at Banbury to hold.

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It's mentioned in the entry for Mendip in the National Historic ships register.

 

MP.

 

O.K., thanks. This is most likely an assumption based on MENDIP's Lister Freedom engine serial number (833 FR2 MP6).

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O.K., thanks. This is most likely an assumption based on MENDIP's Lister Freedom engine serial number (833 FR2 MP6).

It would certainly fit if the FR was new when fitted.

 

My particular interest is because I have 512 FR2 MP6 installed in my boat, and 516 FR2 MP6 stored as a spare at home.

 

Neither of these engines were originally canal boat engines, 512 started life in a harbour launch in Westernport Bay, Australia, and 516 was an auxiliary in a seagoing boat which ended up being used as a houseboat on the South Coast.

 

MP.

Edited by MoominPapa

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It would certainly fit if the FR was new when fitted.

 

My particular interest is because I have 512 FR2 MP6 installed in my boat, and 516 FR2 MP6 stored as a spare at home.

 

Neither of these engines were originally canal boat engines, 512 started life in a harbour launch in Westernport Bay, Australia, and 516 was an auxiliary in a seagoing boat which ended up being used as a houseboat on the South Coast.

 

MP.

 

What does the "P" in engine number stand for?

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It would certainly fit if the FR was new when fitted.

 

My particular interest is because I have 512 FR2 MP6 installed in my boat, and 516 FR2 MP6 stored as a spare at home.

 

Neither of these engines were originally canal boat engines, 512 started life in a harbour launch in Westernport Bay, Australia, and 516 was an auxiliary in a seagoing boat which ended up being used as a houseboat on the South Coast.

 

MP.

 

I'm fairly sure I remember Charlie saying that he had had that engine from new, though I'm not sure when he took over the Mendip.

 

Tim

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I knew Charlie, what a great bloke he was, the picture below shows him holding a model of a BCN tug I took to the 1972(/) Lymnn IWA rally. He was steering Lapwing then which is in the background.

 

I was working with him on Lapwing at the time. He told me moved on to Mendip from Clent IIRC, in the early 1950s. Perhaps this was when the engine was changed.

 

When I was living on Pluto, I moored next to Charlie, and used to take him out shopping in the 1934 Riley 9 I had built, an open two-seater with no windscreen. In a later, more modern, vehicle, I took him to Goole. We arrived at Ocean Lock just as a ship was entering the docks and stood and watched the lock operating. At the end, Charlie said to me - It's a bit faster than the Shroppie! For the following few days back at Preston Brook he would recall the trip, telling me all the things he had seen that you would need to know if you went boating on the A&CN and C&HN, things which I had not noticed. It made me realise that there is a big difference between intelligence and education. Charlie may not have had the latter, but he certainly had the former.

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I was working with him on Lapwing at the time. He told me moved on to Mendip from Clent IIRC, in the early 1950s. Perhaps this was when the engine was changed.

 

It's probably not clear from the exchanges above, but the engine number implies that the engine was built in 1956 (the final digit is build year, starting from 1950). So if the move to Mendip was in the early 1950s, the engine change must have been a few years later.

 

MP.

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Thanks for that. :)

We had an interesting experience with Charlie in 1964 at Anderton. When we arrived in Vesta and Spitfire and moored at the summit Charle came and asked if we were doing a return trip if so could he travel with us.We were delighted and surprised as he must have done the trip many times.

He enjoyed our beer and we appreciated his advice, a lovely day. Max

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It would certainly fit if the FR was new when fitted.

 

MP.

 

I have no doubt that the Lister FR2 fitted into MENDIP had not previously been in another boat, but I do question whether it was fitted into MENDIP in 1956 which was the year the engine was manufactured. The reason for my scepticism is I have details of several former F.M.C. Ltd. motors being fitted with Lister Freedom's by 'British Waterways' but the date of fitting never ties up with the engine serial number date of manufacturer, sometimes by as much as 2 years. My reference source for these engine changes comes from 'British Waterways' own maintenance records but unfortunately I have not managed to find many relating to the North Western Division carrying fleet, of which MENDIP was one.

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keep a lookout ...

 

Chocolate Charlie narrowboat prepares for sweet voyage from National Waterways Museum 14 September 2011 Culture24

 

A narrowboat famous for hauling vital chocolate supplies between the Midlands headquarters of confectionary giants Cadbury and Bournville will re-enact its old journey in a public send-off to celebrate the end of a major restoration project. The Mendip, which carried chocolate crumbs between factories at Knighton and Birmingham under the stewardship of understandably popular canal personality Chocolate Charlie more than 50 years ago, has been lovingly resurrected by boatbuilding prodigies at the National Waterways Museum’s Heritage Boatyard. She will be seen off from the museum by Ellesmere Port mayor Angela Claydon on Saturday (September 17), mirroring a trip which was egged on by local children during the heydays of the region’s chocolate industries.

 

“This trip is a fantastic way to showcase the restoration work on Mendip and the wider regeneration of the Museum,” said Peter Collins, the Collections Manager at the National Waterways Museum, which has overseen repairs and embellishments made by trainees alongside volunteers from the Boat Museum Society. “We’re very proud of the work done in the Heritage Boatyard – the restoration work is top quality and the trainees are getting some priceless training. We’re pleased to have been able to get Mendip back on the water and make Chocolate Charlie proud.”

 

Mendip was one of six steel motorboats made by Yarwoods of Northwich in 1947, built to a unique design drawn up by Joshua Fellows during the 1880s. She carried a 25-ton load across 50 locks in a 14-hour journey between the North-West and Birmingham on the Shropshire Canal, manned by her experienced master whose real name was Charlie Atkins. His fame earned him appearances on various television programmes after the Mendip had ended her days at Preston Brook, and Atkins was considering becoming resident caretaker of the vessel at the Boat Museum before ill health forced him to retire to live with his son. His death in 1981 meant he never returned to the boat.

 

The museum will open early to allow the public to enjoy the start of the trip, which will see it visit a gala day at Bournville and dock at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley for several days. It will return to Port Ellesmere on September 28. A spokesman for Kraft Foods, which completed a takeover of Cadbury in 2010, said staff at the factory were excited about the voyage. The company backed the rebuild to the tune of £10,000. “Bournville was built in the 19th century primarily because of the nearby canal, so the waterways played a pivotal role in the birth and subsequent success of Cadbury,” they said. “We were delighted to help support the trip and are very much looking forward to greeting her when she arrives.”

 

Tony Hales, the Chairman of British Waterways, said the carrier had been restored to an “excellent standard”. “It’s fantastic to see Mendip back in the water and recreating her historic journey to Bournville,” he added. Birmingham’s canals were once the industrial heart of our country and were made so by boats such as Mendip. “Today these boats add great colour to our waterways and are unique reminders of our industrial heritage.”

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mendipnwm.jpg

 

I might be wrong but this lettering doesnt look right to me. The name seems to far forward and although some boats had the names on the fore ends in the NW fleet I cannot remember Mendip as one of them, also the solid black shading looks wrong as I remeber seeing BW shading in two colours apple green and black. Some boats had the panel in sold yellow too - anyone remember or have a picture, none of mine show a name on the bow of this boat.

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As a footnote to this, Owl had a small part to play in this chocolate chip transport. Bill Edwards, Owl's steerer, was asked to take an experimental load to see how feasible the trade would be.

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Mendip was one of six steel motorboats made by Yarwoods of Northwich in 1947, built to a unique design drawn up by Joshua Fellows during the 1880s

 

Forward thinking chap, obviously was Joshua Fellows!

 

Must have designed the diesel powered, counter sterned narrow boat some considerable time before one was actually put into production.......

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Forward thinking chap, obviously was Joshua Fellows!

 

Must have designed the diesel powered, counter sterned narrow boat some considerable time before one was actually put into production.......

These boats were drawn up by Yarwoods to an improved spec and are larger than previous built FMC motors, also record they hold show delivery in 1949 not 1947 as stated, the NWM has this information so why they write such dribble is beyond me, about to call Mr Hanbury and burn his ears.

Edited by Laurence Hogg

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Laurence, Phil Speight's comments in his last thread...

 

Just to say I`m still here. Back in t`glen once more after much time spent in Ellesmere Port. Main job this time was Mendip - painted as she was in 1961. I`m really looking forward to a few rivet counters seeing the boat because the colour scheme ( it`s only blue and yellow ) has a number of apparent anomalies which I hope to get some stick for. We have the evidence though - so fire away!

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Laurence, Phil Speight's comments in his last thread...

I am sure if Phil did it then its correct. There was a lot of variation, I have a picture took in Wilverhampton showing at least three different styles of fore ends on northern boats. Mr Hanbury's ears have been burned and he isnt a happy bunny.

 

This photo was taken outside Can Lane wharf and shows the variations in fore ends of the northern fleet.

Left to right: Shad, Ibis, Azalea & Gailey.

gallery_5000_522_25899.jpg

Edited by Laurence Hogg

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