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Jim

Help with this location please

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I'm trying to find out where this photograph, dating from 1973, was taken. I believe it to be somewhere between Leighton Buzzard and Nottingham. The boats are Elstree and Lyra, which were then being operated as a camping pair by T&A Collier.

I'm told that if I post the image here I'll have an answer "in seconds" so don't let me down.

Location unknown.JPG

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1973 a very good year. I moved onto my first liveaboard that year. It were a bloody sight bigger than the boats in this picture though.

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I must be getting a bit sad, as I could have said it was "Elstree" and "Lyra" without you telling us!

This trip is referred to at length in Tim and Andy Collier's book, and i seems Andy took the baots to Norringham & Tim brought them back.

However it seems they attended their sister's wedding in Bedfordshire between the outward and return trip, and it was all a bit manic, with lots of frantic driving.

It is also recorded that the 18HP Russell Newbery could not make adequate progress against the flow of the Trent, and hirers were used to help drag the boats against the current :wacko:

 

Ah! - the heady days of camping boating!

 

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Well my advice wasn't that far out. Thanks for solving a mystery.

I'm intrigued by Alan's reference to Tim and Andy Collier's book, something I wasn't aware of. As a participant on the northbound trip I'd like to read Andy's account of it. The pace was certainly frantic and the passengers (customers) were given no say in where or when the boats would stop for the night . I even recall the steerer refusing to stop to pick up a girl who had fallen in whilst trying to board the moving boats and requiring her to run down the towpath to overtake them and try again! I'm surprised though that I have no memory of bow hauling against the current on the Trent, so perhaps it was another trip being written about.

But if someone can give me the title of the book I'd be grateful.

Edited to say that I've now realised that on the trip to Nottingham the boats would have been going with the current, so the bow-hauling must have happened on the return south. Doh!

Edited by Jim

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1 hour ago, alan_fincher said:

Ah! - the heady days of camping boating!

I think the termination of the vast majority of Camping Boats is a bit of a tragedy, both for those who could enjoy a reasonably priced holiday and those who were employed as steerers and were the 'last bastion of enthusiasts' who could earn their living from working a pair of boats - even if they were effectively empties (alternatives being the Threefellows Carrying gravel boats or hotel boats, many of which were 'historics' back then).

Fuel Boats have become popular in more recent years but these are mostly single motors, and buttys in carrying condition have almost disappeared. I am glad I did my professional boating when I did (1979 - 1985) when there was still plenty of boaters to teach me my trade and set standards that have seen me well throughout my subsequent career 'on the bank' :captain:

edit - when I was working there were numerous camping boats operating across the midlands - Birmingham and Midland = 2 pairs, Union Canal Carriers = 4 pairs and 4 single motors (self steer), Warwickshire Fly Boat = 2 pairs and 1 single motor, Threefellows = 1 pair, Educational Cruisers = 2 pairs, Foxton Boat Services = 1 pair and 1 single motor plus several community boats that were little more than posh camping boats with a cabin (including the pair I operated - and a couple listed above are open to interpretation).

Edited by pete harrison
  • Greenie 1

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34 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

I think the termination of the vast majority of Camping Boats is a bit of a tragedy, both for those who could enjoy a reasonably priced holiday and those who were employed as steerers and were the 'last bastion of enthusiasts' who could earn their living from working a pair of boats - even if they were effectively empties (alternatives being the Threefellows Carrying gravel boats or hotel boats, many of which were 'historics' back then).

Fuel Boats have become popular in more recent years but these are mostly single motors, and buttys in carrying condition have almost disappeared. I am glad I did my professional boating when I did (1979 - 1985) when there was still plenty of boaters to teach me my trade and set standards that have seen me well throughout my subsequent career 'on the bank' :captain:

edit - when I was working there were numerous camping boats operating across the midlands - Birmingham and Midland = 2 pairs, Union Canal Carriers = 4 pairs and 4 single motors (self steer), Warwickshire Fly Boat = 2 pairs and 1 single motor, Threefellows = 1 pair, Educational Cruisers = 2 pairs, Foxton Boat Services = 1 pair and 1 single motor plus several community boats that were little more than posh camping boats with a cabin (including the pair I operated - and a couple listed above are open to interpretation).

Also Willow Wren with self steer and us with Tadworth, the NB trusts Alton and later Crane ex W.W.

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55 minutes ago, Jim said:

Well my advice wasn't that far out. Thanks for solving a mystery.

I'm intrigued by Alan's reference to Tim and Andy Collier's book, something I wasn't aware of. As a participant on the northbound trip I'd like to read Andy's account of it. The pace was certainly frantic and the passengers (customers) were given no say in where or when the boats would stop for the night . I even recall the steerer refusing to stop to pick up a girl who had fallen in whilst trying to board the moving boats and requiring her to run down the towpath to overtake them and try again! I'm surprised though that I have no memory of bow hauling against the current on the Trent, so perhaps it was another trip being written about.

But if someone can give me the title of the book I'd be grateful.

Edited to say that I've now realised that on the trip to Nottingham the boats would have been going with the current, so the bow-hauling must have happened on the return south. Doh!

"An Affair With The Cut" (Tim and Andy Collier)

No stated publisher or ISBN - my copy priced at £11.99.

This book will not be to everybody's taste, and the style of writing isn't great, and in my copy photos are poorly reproduced.  However my brother's Mike and Pete worked their boats Bilster and Angel with the Colliers, (though never camping), and both the brothers and the boats feature regularly, so I'll forgive its shortcomings! (Several of the pictures are by my brother Mike).

Andy passed away several years back, but Tim is still going strong, and we see him quite often, sometimes even at the tiller.

The book may be hard to find now, but it would be worth trying the Historic Narrow Boat Club shop - they certainly did have copies a while back.

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8 minutes ago, Dav and Pen said:

Also Willow Wren with self steer and us with Tadworth, the NB trusts Alton and later Crane ex W.W.

I knew I would regret making a list !!!!!

I seem to recall when UCC sold PETREL they took ALTON on hire from NBT, and Helen Smith had it with MOON until she took on one of the Lewisham boats. I remember Harvey 'headbanger' with the TADWORTH, and of course WW had CRANE and SANDPIPER running out of Rugby :captain:

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13 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

"An Affair With The Cut" (Tim and Andy Collier)
The book may be hard to find now, but it would be worth trying the Historic Narrow Boat Club shop - they certainly did have copies a while back.

A quick Google found it is available from https://www.reveriecanaltradingco.co.uk/ourshop/prod_6135695-An-Affair-with-the-Cut.html

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1 minute ago, John Brightley said:
Quote

There are two versions of this book but both have the same content which one you receive may vary.

That sounds a bit odd!....................

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1 hour ago, pete harrison said:

Warwickshire Fly Boat = 2 pairs and 1 single motor

Ahem, I beg to differ Pete. 2 pairs & 2 single motors though the single motors swapped around a bit. I should know as I steered one of them.

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23 minutes ago, davidg said:

Ahem, I beg to differ Pete. 2 pairs & 2 single motors though the single motors swapped around a bit. I should know as I steered one of them.

You are of course correct, I forgot FRANCE - it was quite a while ago now !

I am sure there will be others as well (I did count sub-contractors with UCC), but the point I was attempting to make is that in the not too distant past there was quite a bit of opportunity to be employed as a boatman on 'historic' narrow boat pairs :captain:

Edited by pete harrison

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6 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

You are of course correct, I forgot FRANCE - it was quite a while ago now !

I am sure there will be others as well (I did count sub-contractors with UCC), but the point I was attempting to make is that in the not too distant past there was quite a bit of opportunity to be employed as a boatman on 'historic' narrow boat pairs :captain:

I have just thought of another WFB single motor - ANDREW N, so that is three single motors - GAMBIA, FRANCE and ANDREW N with the pairs being PLOVER and KILDARE and NAUTILUS ans SIBERIA, although I do not remember ANDREW N is service :captain:

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10 hours ago, pete harrison said:

I think the termination of the vast majority of Camping Boats is a bit of a tragedy, both for those who could enjoy a reasonably priced holiday and those who were employed as steerers and were the 'last bastion of enthusiasts' who could earn their living from working a pair of boats - even if they were effectively empties (alternatives being the Threefellows Carrying gravel boats or hotel boats, many of which were 'historics' back then).

Fuel Boats have become popular in more recent years but these are mostly single motors, and buttys in carrying condition have almost disappeared. I am glad I did my professional boating when I did (1979 - 1985) when there was still plenty of boaters to teach me my trade and set standards that have seen me well throughout my subsequent career 'on the bank' :captain:

edit - when I was working there were numerous camping boats operating across the midlands - Birmingham and Midland = 2 pairs, Union Canal Carriers = 4 pairs and 4 single motors (self steer), Warwickshire Fly Boat = 2 pairs and 1 single motor, Threefellows = 1 pair, Educational Cruisers = 2 pairs, Foxton Boat Services = 1 pair and 1 single motor plus several community boats that were little more than posh camping boats with a cabin (including the pair I operated - and a couple listed above are open to interpretation).

My first introduction to canal boating was on the pair of self steer UCC boats in July 1973 as part of a venture scouts, one boat for the boys and one for the girls.

Unfortunately I failed to take any photos of the boats, only the people on board.

Can't remember the names of the boats, but I enjoyed it so mucho hired one the next year with friends to overcome the restrictions the scouts had put on the first holiday.

Camping boats must have introduced hundreds of young people to the canals, something that is much needed today to ensure their future.

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I guess the expect ion of modern day holidays would mean the take up of camping boats for a break would be limited to a limited number of "enthusiasts" the folk running the boat would have to have installed a lot of extra 'gismo's than would have been expected/required back in the heyday,a trawl through the specs on hire boats operating today bears out the differences between 1970 & 2017 & camping boats were a more budget holiday so would be more spartan folk today seem to require a better quality of accommodation H&c showers , hair dryer; mobile phone chargers are "gismos that spring to mind

 

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Well I wasn't going to challenge Pete's numbers, because he specifically said "when I was working", but I feel sure that atr one stage Union Canal Carriers were operating more than 4 pairs simultaneously.......

Ant & Axe

Bexhill & Brighton

Birmingham & Balham

Kimberley & Puppis

Petrel & Moon

The single motors, I saw less often down our way, and I'm struggling a bit with names , but again I would say more than 4 of them

Bainton, Bilster, Eileen, Edgware & (I think!) Hawkesbury.

I think at least 15 boats in use simultaneously, though obviously two of the boats were conversions to motors, (Ant &&  Eileen).

Clearly by far the largest of the camping boat operators.

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11 hours ago, pete harrison said:

I think the termination of the vast majority of Camping Boats is a bit of a tragedy, both for those who could enjoy a reasonably priced holiday and those who were employed as steerers and were the 'last bastion of enthusiasts' who could earn their living from working a pair of boats - even if they were effectively empties (alternatives being the Threefellows Carrying gravel boats or hotel boats, many of which were 'historics' back then).

Fuel Boats have become popular in more recent years but these are mostly single motors, and buttys in carrying condition have almost disappeared. I am glad I did my professional boating when I did (1979 - 1985) when there was still plenty of boaters to teach me my trade and set standards that have seen me well throughout my subsequent career 'on the bank' :captain:

edit - when I was working there were numerous camping boats operating across the midlands - Birmingham and Midland = 2 pairs, Union Canal Carriers = 4 pairs and 4 single motors (self steer), Warwickshire Fly Boat = 2 pairs and 1 single motor, Threefellows = 1 pair, Educational Cruisers = 2 pairs, Foxton Boat Services = 1 pair and 1 single motor plus several community boats that were little more than posh camping boats with a cabin (including the pair I operated - and a couple listed above are open to interpretation).

Don't forget that several camping boats operated on the L&LC, either for Peter Froud or through Northern Counties Carriers (Geoff Wheat). Amongst those used were June, Frank, Finch, Lune, Wye, Irwell and Weaver.

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4 minutes ago, X Alan W said:

I guess the expect ion of modern day holidays would mean the take up of camping boats for a break would be limited to a limited number of "enthusiasts" the folk running the boat would have to have installed a lot of extra 'gismo's than would have been expected/required back in the heyday,a trawl through the specs on hire boats operating today bears out the differences between 1970 & 2017 & camping boats were a more budget holiday so would be more spartan folk today seem to require a better quality of accommodation H&c showers , hair dryer; mobile phone chargers are "gismos that spring to mind

 

Tim Carter, (who occasionally posts on here), seems to be enjoying a fair amount of business with "William" that he has operated for several years now.

However most, (but not all) of that trade seems to be short breaks, I think often with only one night on board, although I know some much longer trips are done.

William is still fairly basic, although the kitchen is I think well upmarket of a UCCCo offering from the 1970s.  It is far better presented - some of the UCCCo boats were fairly rough, including having cloths that leaked badly, so it was hard to find a dry bunk amongsts the dozen available.

Of course William also has a big Bolinder, making it really rather special.

Tim has indicated to me he would love to add a butty to work with William, but that the demand for double the berths would be unlikely to be sufficient to justify it.

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10 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

That sounds a bit odd!....................

Hi! Thought i would pop in and let you all know we are currently out of stock of the book. However we hope to have a few more coppies in the new year.

I will post back here when we do!

We had a few colour versions of the book, the same content but with many of the pictures in colour ;) ( now all sold)

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2 minutes ago, reveriecanaltradingco said:

Hi! Thought i would pop in and let you all know we are currently out of stock of the book. However we hope to have a few more coppies in the new year.

I will post back here when we do!

We had a few colour versions of the book, the same content but with many of the pictures in colour ;) ( now all sold)

I  wondered if that was what you meant.  I have seen a version with rather better colour pictures than the poorly reproduced B&W ones I have in my copy.

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Tim tells us that all the books were supposed to have the colour pictures. However once the books came back from print they had been incorectley printed in B&W they tried to have the printer rectify the mistake but they would not accept the cost.

Tim often talks of having a "second eddition" printed to include more stories, colour pictures and in an A5 format. Im unsuer this will happen but its often the topic of conversation!

Dan

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Tim Wood operated joshers Vanguard and Ilkeston as a camping pair for just a couple of years when he first came into partnership with us. Can't think what years that was off-hand.

 

Tam

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2 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

Well I wasn't going to challenge Pete's numbers, because he specifically said "when I was working", but I feel sure that atr one stage Union Canal Carriers were operating more than 4 pairs simultaneously.......

Ant & Axe

Bexhill & Brighton

Birmingham & Balham

Kimberley & Puppis

Petrel & Moon

The single motors, I saw less often down our way, and I'm struggling a bit with names , but again I would say more than 4 of them

Bainton, Bilster, Eileen, Edgware & (I think!) Hawkesbury.

I think at least 15 boats in use simultaneously, though obviously two of the boats were conversions to motors, (Ant &&  Eileen).

Clearly by far the largest of the camping boat operators.

Hawkesbury was definitely a camping boat at UCC, there are some sink mountings and waste outlet still welded to the hold which I presume date from that period. 

20171117_112215.jpg

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