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Heartland

Disecting a narrowboat

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I have often wondered about the value of splitting a full length narrow boat into two. Such a process has probably extended the life of some craft and enabled their continued use for the boater. Yet for those following their history and previous uses, is this actually a bad thing? The positive and negative benefits become a confused blur. Once done, those that own one half or the other have to decide on naming and once converted is the heritage status abandoned?

 

I was reminded of this fact once I heard about the Argo being cut into 2 in 2016. If I recall I saw it at the IWA Waterways Festival at Waltham Abbey in 1994.

167812.jpg

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I believe the boat yard at Braunston Bottom lock are past masters at this exercise. As to the merits...............................................

 

One could argue that as soon as a ex working boat is replated, repaired has it lost its historical integrity? (Dover and dare I mention it Raymond?)

The boats now in store in the warehouse at Ellesmere Port are going to be preserved as the are. The reason being if they are restored they will loose that historical integrity. People can see them as built, not as restored.  

 

Like steam locos when they were working they had routine maintenance but when built they were purely "work horses."

 

Yes I know they were left to rot for some considerable time but to me that is an argument for another day.

IMGP3128.JPG

 

 

Edited by Ray T

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The problem, of course is that very few private owners are in a position to take on a butty, and keep it in good repair.

This is particularly so, if it is to remain, (or revert to), an unconverted butty.  Unless you take liberties with extension cabins, you are paying for over 70 feet of boat, to get less than 9 feet of accommodation space, and for a boat you can only go boating in if you have another one to tow it around with.

Hence for some time they have tended to be in very little demand, and one needing work is likely to make more for the owner if it is used to create two motors.
 

There are quite a few around the place where the owners are resisting that happening, and in some cases they are in very poor condition, (maybe even a kit of parts that needs putting back together).

Malcolm Braine is held in God-like esteem by some enthusiasts, but he will openly admit that before they became scarc, he took the back end off many a butty to create somebody a motor boat for conversion.  Sometimes I don't thing the back end was even saved, because there was a fairly unlimited supply of boats, and the front end always looks better as a front end.

Its curious then that some former buttys now seem to being restored back to buttys, whilst other buttys anguish around the place with nobody apparently keen to take them on.  A poster on here has already stated their intent to take a River class butty back to its original form.

Even more curious is that ex GUCCCo "Baildon", which has become a shortened "motor" for many years is now in dock, apparently about to become a butty again?  I'm assuming full length, but I have no information on the topic.  Does anybody know the back story here, please?  I'm genuinely intrigued!

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1 hour ago, Heartland said:

Once done, those that own one half or the other have to decide on naming and once converted is the heritage status abandoned?

Well there are certainly cases where both bits retain the original name, even if one doesn't actually contain a lot of the original.

How should Sextans now be named, as it contains a substantial chunk of Thea, as well as more recently quite a long bit of brand new steel, (but I think with knees from another deceased boat!).

As to heritage status, what does that mean?  Quite a few of these heavily bastardised boats are accepted on to the National Historic Ships Register, for example.  I'm not sure exactly which without checking, but boats like  Bream, Lepus, Saltaire spring to mind as likely candidates - I don't think anybody has established a rule abut which bit is "heritage" and which is not!  I'd hate to tell former working boatman Roger Hatchard that the wonderful turned out tug he has that is  formed from the back end of Lepus doesn't qualify as "heritage" - in my mind it very firmly is.

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2 hours ago, Heartland said:

I have often wondered about the value of splitting a full length narrow boat into two. Such a process has probably extended the life of some craft and enabled their continued use for the boater. Yet for those following their history and previous uses, is this actually a bad thing? The positive and negative benefits become a confused blur. Once done, those that own one half or the other have to decide on naming and once converted is the heritage status abandoned?

 

I was reminded of this fact once I heard about the Argo being cut into 2 in 2016. If I recall I saw it at the IWA Waterways Festival at Waltham Abbey in 1994.

167812.jpg

I bought coal from Argo on the river Lea in 1994 during the festival.

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I think Blizzard has made a valid point. Heritage Boats are best used for the purpose they were built for and coal carrying for the boatmen or the homes beside the waterway fulfills that role. Next year there will be another Festival on the Lee, it will be of interest to see which heritage boats attend.

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4 minutes ago, Heartland said:

I think Blizzard has made a valid point. Heritage Boats are best used for the purpose they were built for and coal carrying for the boatmen or the homes beside the waterway fulfills that role. Next year there will be another Festival on the Lee, it will be of interest to see which heritage boats attend.

The chap that owned it also became a BSS examiner shortly after. He came here to B.Stortford to examine a Dutch barge.

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13 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

Well there are certainly cases where both bits retain the original name, even if one doesn't actually contain a lot of the original.

As to heritage status, what does that mean?  Quite a few of these heavily bastardised boats are accepted on to the National Historic Ships Register, for example.  I'm not sure exactly which without checking, but boats like  Bream, Lepus, Saltaire spring to mind as likely candidates - I don't think anybody has established a rule abut which bit is "heritage" and which is not!  I'd hate to tell former working boatman Roger Hatchard that the wonderful turned out tug he has that is  formed from the back end of Lepus doesn't qualify as "heritage" - in my mind it very firmly is.

For the record Roger Hatchard’s Lead Us was made out of the front, but unusually shorter part, of Lepus by Ian Kemp.  David Harris turned the bit left over in to a 57ft motor boat, subsequently lengthened ( by Paul Barber?)

 

Paul

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1 hour ago, Ray T said:

I believe the boat yard at Braunston Bottom lock are past masters at this exercise. As to the merits...............................................

 

One could argue that as soon as a ex working boat is replated, repaired has it lost its historical integrity? (Dover and dare I mention it Raymond?)

The boats now in store in the warehouse at Ellesmere Port are going to be preserved as the are. The reason being if they are restored they will loose that historical integrity. People can see them as built, not as restored.  

 

Like steam locos when they were working they had routine maintenance but when built they were purely "work horses."

 

Yes I know they were left to rot for some considerable time but to me that is an argument for another day.

IMGP3128.JPG

 

 

 

I know that Roger has converted a couple of unwanted GU butties into Motors, and very skillfully too, but a describing him as a past master is a bit of an exageration. Anyway, I doubt that he will be doing any more as his is now trying to be semi retired.

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47 minutes ago, bizzard said:

I bought coal from Argo on the river Lea in 1994 during the festival.

Another picture fro1994 Waltham Abbey Festival

CACA23DC-2616-4F98-B44C-72000E821E85.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Paul H said:

For the record Roger Hatchard’s Lead Us was made out of the front, but unusually shorter part, of Lepus by Ian Kemp.  David Harris turned the bit left over in to a 57ft motor boat, subsequently lengthened ( by Paul Barber?)

 

Paul

Quite correct.

My mind was somewhere else when I posted that!

Its unusual, I guess for the front bit not to be the one that retains the original name, (if only one half does), which may be what muddled my thinking!

No excuse though - I did know the real answer had I thought about it!

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Around post 1963 with the demise of BW long distance fleet & other piles of assorted unloved/unwanted ex commercial boats leisure boaters of that time were into ex pontoons, ships life boats & the thought of getting afloat in 70ft of ex working boats was a real scare for other than a few. There were good #'s of wooden "joeys" & buttys along with the all metal or composite examples most boat yards were more into wood for hulls /cabins etc steel was in the future so the money was in cutting in 2 & in the case of a butty have a forward /backward bits with squared off transom sterns in the region of 35 ft 5 ft longer than the usual life boat but able to "do" the narrow canals & not scaring the "whotsit" out of previous life boat owners/boaters at that time that was were the money was for yards that were appearing + diy was possible to tun out a decent looking boat if you were a competent "chippy"as the fore end shape had been formed As time passed steel was seen as better for the hull & finally all steel became the norm of today, as said Mr Braine was viewed as a god like figure as he always seemed to know of available boats but he had no soft spots for heritage unless it was a money making excersize similar to Ernie Thomas if he took a liking to you enough to produce a boat for you .Lenny Walton & his son produced a quality BCN style narrow beam cruiser in wood sturdy good swimming & built like the proverbial

  • Greenie 1

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3 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

 

Even more curious is that ex GUCCCo "Baildon", which has become a shortened "motor" for many years is now in dock, apparently about to become a butty again?  I'm assuming full length, but I have no information on the topic.  Does anybody know the back story here, please?  I'm genuinely intrigued!

 

I heard on the towpath a couple of months ago that Baildon has been bought by the owners of a full length converted Big Woolwich motor, and the intention is to convert Baildon as a full length cabinned butty to provide more liveaboard accommodation. The RN out of Baildon is going into the motor to replace the non-authentic engine it currently has. But I can't be sure of the identity of the motor - it may be Bicester, but I could be wrong.

 

And my interest here is that Baildon was Belfast's original intended butty.

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I noticed a few have said about converting buttys to motors but this isn't any diffrent to what alot of old carries use to do, there are a number of motors about that use to be buttys from a by gone working era. it was also done from motor to butty due to lack of engines that then got converted back to motors.

 

I semi see an issue with cutting a boat up to make 2 boats but i don't have an issue turning a boat from 1 form to another.

 

also alot of Tugs were made from full length boats with either the middle or a bow or a back cut off.

 

so these that don't fully agree should boats like England, Enterprise, Dane (TCO), Severn (TCO), Holland ect ect all be returned to how the came out or is this not a part of there history and now in a form that they survive and still loved?

  • Greenie 2

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I would like too add the part of cutting a good butty up in the middle to then add a new length of middle and bow or sturn so you get 2 60-70 foot boats is the bit i dont agree with.

 

when you could have cut the back off the butty build a good looking or copy of a old motor counter or even used parts of the butty back to build the swim for the counter to sit on if the steel is that useabe to make 1 boat and using near to no extra steel to have created a compleatly new boat using the converted butty as measurments.

 

I do understand that if it's a really poor example that sometimes is the middle that can only be saved.

 

but cutting a good butty up into 2 motors just so you can sell each boat as ex working boats is just a waist of a good ex working boat and clearly shows there is no intrest in the history saving, but just money making at play.

 

I know I look at boats differently to others in that I wouldn't remove wood and put steel in its place be it a cabin or bottoms but i also realise why people do and I'm not against development of construction methods or materials.

 

i also would rather stick to a riveted repairs for steel thats far too gone rather than cut it out and weld say a new side in unless the boat was welded from new.

 

my views are very sim to a joey, if convertion is the only way to save it ok but it's they way it's done squire is a good example that the hull even for the counter and swim used as much of the original boat as pos by bending the sides to make the swim and even part of the counter and wasn't just cut and a compleatly new sturn built. or again wasn't 1 boar but cut up to make 2 boats.

 

This is why my personal boat wanting list gets smaller and smaller this is why if I have to choose a boat for an award its always based on weather the owner has tried to keep a boat as close to original construction as pos or within its history.

 

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On 09/12/2018 at 16:37, David Mack said:

 

I heard on the towpath a couple of months ago that Baildon has been bought by the owners of a full length converted Big Woolwich motor, and the intention is to convert Baildon as a full length cabinned butty to provide more liveaboard accommodation. The RN out of Baildon is going into the motor to replace the non-authentic engine it currently has. But I can't be sure of the identity of the motor - it may be Bicester, but I could be wrong.

 

And my interest here is that Baildon was Belfast's original intended butty.

Thats an accurate description of the plans for Baildon and Bicester is the motor, they also were paired up in the past. It is good to see the back of the oversized counter fitted to Baildon!

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I wonder what the back story is to how that top bend got so badly whacked?

It must have been a suitably big wallop.

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Good to see Belfast's butty being restored!

:)

 

6 hours ago, zenataomm said:

I wonder what the back story is to how that top bend got so badly whacked?

It must have been a suitably big wallop.

 

Fulbourne has a very similar dent in exactly the same place. No idea how that happened either.

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4 minutes ago, David Mack said:

 

 

 

Fulbourne has a very similar dent in exactly the same place. No idea how that happened either.

I was told it was the bottom lock gates that continuously hit that part of the boat 

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Well the RN is a better option than a Perkins P3 (which is a nice engine)

 

As for the dent I seem to recall a GU boat around southern GU which had a very big dent in the same place. Late 90s. Can't remember the name or if it was a motor or a butty. I remember dark blue paint. Very big dent in the bows. Big one.

 

I don't think that is lock gate impact. More likely impact with an immovable object. Could be something to do with regents canal dock I reckon.

 

Eta I think it was a town class ie a large boat. 

 

Edited by magnetman

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I agree it's likely to have been an immovable object, and I guess it was it was stopping a heavy weight.  So probably a fully loaded boat which also matches with a smack on the load line.

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My experience of hitting things with a loaded town class is that generally what was immovable kind of moves..

Mrs S hit a rose narrowboats stern loaded once ( they were moored centre line only ) it certainly moved..

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17 hours ago, zenataomm said:

I wonder what the back story is to how that top bend got so badly whacked?

It must have been a suitably big wallop.

Bexhill has quite a "ding" in it.......

 

IMG_1234.JPG

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