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Hello, I am newly registered on this forum.

 

I am the last owner of Aries in both unrestored and restored condition.  Questions welcome, but I may be a bit slow to reply as I’m getting on a bit.  I no longer live in UK.

 

The boat joined the ‘Gucci’ fleet in 1935 and because this was the King’s Jubilee year it was painted in patriotic colours of red white and blue.  Crossed Union Jacks on the cratch and the engine room doors.  This information came from an old Number 1 at Braunston who remembered.

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As you probably know ARIES is now stored on dry land near to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port. I was given an exclusive tour of this facility at the end of last year.

 

I run my own archive and collate information on former commercial narrow boats, and the boats of the G.U.C.C.Co. Ltd. form the backbone of my records. I do have your name as an owner of ARIES but I do not have an acquisition or disposal date. Would you be prepared to divulge these, perhaps as a Personal Message if you prefer to keep specific details a little more private ?

 

I do remember when ARIES was restored at Norton Canes in 1978, and then as a respectable exhibit at Ellesmere Port from 1982 onwards - both presumably during your ownership.

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Hello Pete,

Thanks for your response.  I have looked through my old records and found the following dates for publication relating to Aries:

 

2 May 1975, boat purchased (vendor's name with-held).  Moved boat from London to Braunston. (An epic journey, severe leaks discovered).

Sadly, the hull and cabin and engine were found to be in very neglected condition, not suitable for the intended cruising.

Sept 1976, towed by Mr J Saxon (boatman) to Braine's yard at Norton Canes. (Sunk awaited restoration for 1 year).

Oct 1977 full restoration begins.  (Hull, cabin, engine, cloths etc.)  1000's of hours labour.

Aug 1980 (approx) restoration completed. Boat re-launched.

Approx. April 1982 keelson found to be leaking (affected by severe ice in Jan. winter).  Front end and bottoms replaced.

June 1982. Relaunched.

July 1982 we delivered the boat to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port as an exhibit on semi-permanent loan, where she has been ever since.

The cost of the restoration(s) ran to tens of thousands, a fortune.  It was worthwhile as Malcolm Braine wrote to the Museum Director "Without any question at all she is by far and away the best condition Grand Union wooden motor boat hull left in existence."

 

I hope these notes are of interest.  I have many photographs of the restorations and will try to post some as time permits.

It is sad to see the engine removed and the hull sunk, rotting once more.  This was never the intention when taking the decision to place her in the museum.  I should add that the museum formally purchased the boat sometime in 2004.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Grawar said:

Hello Pete,

Thanks for your response.  I have looked through my old records and found the following dates for publication relating to Aries:

 

2 May 1975, boat purchased (vendor's name with-held).  Moved boat from London to Braunston. (An epic journey, severe leaks discovered).

Sadly, the hull and cabin and engine were found to be in very neglected condition, not suitable for the intended cruising.

Sept 1976, towed by Mr J Saxon (boatman) to Braine's yard at Norton Canes. (Sunk awaited restoration for 1 year).

Oct 1977 full restoration begins.  (Hull, cabin, engine, cloths etc.)  1000's of hours labour.

Aug 1980 (approx) restoration completed. Boat re-launched.

Approx. April 1982 keelson found to be leaking (affected by severe ice in Jan. winter).  Front end and bottoms replaced.

June 1982. Relaunched.

July 1982 we delivered the boat to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port as an exhibit on semi-permanent loan, where she has been ever since.

The cost of the restoration(s) ran to tens of thousands, a fortune.  It was worthwhile as Malcolm Braine wrote to the Museum Director "Without any question at all she is by far and away the best condition Grand Union wooden motor boat hull left in existence."

 

I hope these notes are of interest.  I have many photographs of the restorations and will try to post some as time permits.

It is sad to see the engine removed and the hull sunk, rotting once more.  This was never the intention when taking the decision to place her in the museum.  I should add that the museum formally purchased the boat sometime in 2004.

Thank you very much for the dates of acquisition and disposal as this now completes the entire timeline and ownership for ARIES. I do have the details of the previous owner, along with their acquisition date, and I am over the moon to complete the history of this boat as I did not think I would ever firm up your dates.

 

One more question, and this is a long shot - British Waterways Board issued index numbers in 1980 and these were displayed in the form of pressed aluminium number plates with a black background and raised white letters, as well as printed  on the paper licence. I do have extensive records of these numbers and I try to highlight those issued to 'historic' boats, but I am not able to pin down the number issued to ARIES (I have 4 numbers that it could be - and the Boat Museum have kept no record). I do have this ARIES and its index number plate on a slide somewhere but as I have in excess of 3000 slides of 'historic' narrow boats it is proving hard to find :captain:

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Pete:  I will trawl through my old photos of the boat and see if it shows up.  I would upload some here, but not sure my tech skills will allow.

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Hope no one minds but I have now entered the above information in my website as well, if Grawar has the facilities to scan & email pics I am more than happy to post them here on his behalf.

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2 hours ago, Grawar said:

Pete:  I will trawl through my old photos of the boat and see if it shows up.  I would upload some here, but not sure my tech skills will allow.

Many thanks, I shall await with hope as this will be the last minor detail I need for ARIES :captain:

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1980 at Audlem Mill.jpg

The picture above, if you can see it, is taken at Audlem Mill in 1980.  I will place another of the stern cabin end below.  I hope this helps.  Pete: So far I cannot see a BW number.  I seem to recall I refused to bear one as it was not 'in period' style and detracted from the overall appearance.

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The picture above, if you can see it, is taken at Audlem Mill in 1980.  I will place another of the stern cabin end below.  I hope this helps.  Pete: So far I cannot see a BW number.  I seem to recall I refused to bear one as it was not 'in period' style and detracted from the overall appearance.

1980 at Audlem stern.jpg

The boatman's cabin had much period brass work, period oil lamps, lace plates and ribbons.  All somewhere at the Boat Museum, or not.

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Period photo.jpg

Not a picture of Aries, but an interesting old photo I was given by a boatman.  I believe it was taken in the 1950's in London's docklands.  It is not clear what name it carries, but it is in GUCC Co livery.

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1975 Springtime (2).jpg

Finally, for now, taken around the time of purchase in 1975, this polaroid shows Aries at her London moorings with its conversion which I subsequently removed as it was rotten and leaking.  I will post pictures of the restoration in due course.

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Great pics, thanks for posting.  What period was the last one please?  (Post 11)

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4 minutes ago, NB Esk said:

Great pics, thanks for posting.  What period was the last one please?  (Post 11)

1975, according to the caption.

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1 minute ago, Athy said:

1975, according to the caption.

Do you know? Must be needing my eyes testing, could have sworn that wasn't there when I first looked.

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1 minute ago, NB Esk said:

Do you know? Must be needing my eyes testing, could have sworn that wasn't there when I first looked.

It's quite possible that Mr. War added it a bit later.

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On 03/06/2018 at 22:15, Grawar said:

The boat joined the ‘Gucci’ fleet in 1935 and because this was the King’s Jubilee year it was painted in patriotic colours of red white and blue.  Crossed Union Jacks on the cratch and the engine room doors.  This information came from an old Number 1 at Braunston who remembered.

I'd not come across that information before, but I did something similar with some of our boats - certainly Towcester and Bude - in the Jubilee year 1977. I changed to red panels on blue with a cream dividing line (white just didn't work very well), and union flags on the oblong block at the top of the stands. Great minds, and all that ......... Actually I suppose it is a bit corny looking back on it now, but they did look good at the time.

 

Tam

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1 hour ago, Grawar said:

Pete: So far I cannot see a BW number.  I seem to recall I refused to bear one as it was not 'in period' style and detracted from the overall appearance.

Not to worry, thanks for looking and please bear me in mind if something should turn up.

 

I remember quite a few owners of 'historic' boats resisting the B.W.B. index number plates when they were introduced, and for the same reason as you give. Interestingly some owners now fight to keep their 1980's index number when boats have been unlicenced or the index number 'lost' for some reason, including me as my recently purchased exG.U.C.C.Co. Ltd. boat was on the River Thames for 10 years with its canals licence well expired - and I succeeded :captain:

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Yes, post #11 is labelled April 1975, so it must be when I first went to see her in London.  I forget exactly where, on the GU south of Regent's Park I seem to recall.

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6 minutes ago, Grawar said:

Yes, post #11 is labelled April 1975, so it must be when I first went to see her in London.  I forget exactly where, on the GU south of Regent's Park I seem to recall.

I have multiple and regular observations of ARIES as a house boat with its previous owner based at Batchworth / Rickmansworth :captain:

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Pete:  Did you see the BW number listed on the Historic Narrow Boat Club site for Aries?  It is 71663.  Does that tally or help?

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6 minutes ago, Grawar said:

Pete:  Did you see the BW number listed on the Historic Narrow Boat Club site for Aries?  It is 71663.  Does that tally or help?

Unfortunately the information presented on the Historic Narrow Boat Club website is often incorrect, and they have 71663 listed for both ARIES and ARIEL - the latter being correct :captain:

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3 hours ago, Grawar said:

Period photo.jpg

Not a picture of Aries, but an interesting old photo I was given by a boatman.  I believe it was taken in the 1950's in London's docklands.  It is not clear what name it carries, but it is in GUCC Co livery.

The boat name is hard to see but it looks like UMBRIEL to my eye, a boat that was sold to T. & S. Element, Birmingham in September 1941. I am thinking this photograph was taken shortly after UMBRIEL was commissioned in August 1935, and the location is Regents Canal Dock (now named Limehouse Basin) :captain:

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What you say, Pete, is quite feasible.  I was told about all it when it was handed to me, but  there is not a note on the actual print.  Maybe I will pencil something on the back.  Anyway, the image is now recorded.  Was this particular shot known to you?

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