BARGES - (and other wide carrying boats over a nominal 7ft beam)
This is an ongoing project. Please help fill in any gaps in the names and numbers, correct any errors and send details of any missing craft types. Photographs especially welcome - especially digital in TIFF, or JPG format at least 1000 pixels wide - but we can cope with anything! Please email to the webmaster - link on menu frame on left of screen.
This section of the site is now divided into craft by region. As you will see, southern craft are currently poorly represented, so please help! Remember though this site is intended for inland waterway craft - so (eg) Thames sailing barges will not normally qualify - whereas Thames lighters, Wey barges, Severn barges etc will!
I am indebted to Peter Hugman (PH) of 'Barge Consult' and Les Reid (LR) of 'Newark Heritage Barge' and many others for help with identification and some additional captions, including Eric Gear, Nick Grundy, George Hartwig, David Lowe, Wren Montgomery, John Pitman, Richard Stroud, Renee Waite. Apologies for anyone I've missed - please let me know!
NORTH WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST SOUTH & EAST
I took this shot in May 1985 at Anderton. It shows a new trial pusher tug and a loaded dumb barge which accompanied us down river on the Weaver. The tug did not appear to be a success (they kept running it up the bank!) but in retrospect I think is was connected wrongly. The crew had it on a loose hitch (as they would with a Bantam or similar) but I think this needed to be on a tight hitch so that the whole connection could function as a single unit.
Same barge and tug - this time in Saltersford Locks on the Weaver.
MERSEY TRADER near Stanlow on the Manchester Ship Canal in 1985. We were overhauled by what I then thought was an effluent tanker - collecting 'sludge' out of Manchester. However, I have been advised (LR) it was more likely to have been carrying grain. She was built in 1977 for Bulk Cargo Handling Services of Liverpool to carry grain from the Seaforth terminal to Trafford in Manchester. (DL)
A Leeds and Liverpool canal boat which is not a 'Short Boat'. Built approx 72 feet by 14 feet, these craft only operated west of Wigan, and along the Leigh Branch, but could not fit the majority of the Leeds and Liverpool canal's locks across the Pennines. "Originally operated by Ainscough Flower Mill in Burscough, and later until the 70's by Albert Blundel on the Bridgwater Canal carrying coal from Boothtown to Manchester." (Quoted from Ian Monk.)
Ambush and Viktoria (another 'long boat') are generally kept together. The only other known 'long boat' is the wooden 'Scorpio', currently (2011) in poor condition, at the Ellesmere Port museum. (NG)
Top photos by Will Chapman at Plank Lane 2010. Bottom photos by Nick Grundy.
Contrast 'Ambush' with the 'short boat' 'Kennet' - one of a number of craft (generally named after rivers) built by WJ Yarwood of Northwich. Apart from the 10ft difference in length, they are essentially similar - as one would expect! Click on the picture link of 'Kennet' above to visit the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society pages . The society are restoring the 'Kennet'.
Also visit the 'Canal Junction' website for a more general appreciation of these craft.
This concrete barge was originally spotted at Glasson Dock (ie the bottom of the Glasson Branch of the Lancaster Canal) in 2005 where it appeared to have been used as a floating restaurant (or possibly a night club?) but was then derelict. In 2010 it had moved to this location a few yards along; but in 2011 there was no sign. Was it removed? Dismantled? Sold?
For comparison, here's how she looked in about 1994 (RS). She was apparently built during the second world war when steel was in short supply. Does anyone know more of its previous history?
NORTH WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST SOUTH & EAST
This section is being loosely divided up according to the principle rivers - Aire, Ouse/Humber, SSYN and Trent - so that barges found those areas, and their tributaries should be together!
Look here for my 1970s Trent barge spotting lists - minimal, but a snapshot of usage at that time in the north east.
RIVER AIRE, AIRE & CALDER NAVIGATION, CALDER & HEBBLE etc
This was taken on the old River Aire in 1984 at Beale. It shows an elderly Yorkshire Keel at work on bridge maintenance.
After some queries, and a new scan of the original negative, I can now state this is the Thos Porter - and not the Hiddekel as previously thought. I would welcome any more information about either craft. In 2012 I was advised that Thos Porter was then in private ownership - here is her owners website.
More gravel en route on the Aire & Calder, Knottingley in 1984.
"This is MV Syenite owned by South Yorkshire Canal Transport. The photo is just above Whitley lock on its way from Cottam to Knottingley for Steetleys. The Syenite is a Peniche or Spits 38m x 5.05m and has a load of about 320t loaded to 2.4m. It was brought over from Belgium specifically for this work." (PH)
The converted 'Sheffield size' keel 'Sobriety' (61'6" - built at Beverley in 1910) on her mooring at the Yorkshire Waterways Museum, Dutch Riverside, Goole DN14 TB - well worth a visit. See www.waterwaysmuseum.org.uk
Also in Goole in 2011 were a large number of barges awaiting work. Some of those present seemed to be under restoration, whilst others appeared to be in process of conversion to floating homes. Any further information appreciated about any of these...
Sailing barge 'Southcliffe' and 'Room 58' at the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
'Northern King' (centre) amongst other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
'Risby' and 'Northern King' with other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
'Seagull' centre) and 'Hiddekel' (right) with other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
Sailing barge 'Southcliffe' (foreground) and 'Heather Rose' (in background) with other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
'Humber Princess' with other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
'Humber Princess' and 'FusedaleH' with other craft near the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
A small steel converted barge 'Aquarius' in Goole Docks. 2011
A converted barge 'Cranbridge' in Goole Docks. 2011
The converted barge 'Goodwill' in the marina at Goole Docks 2011. She was built by Harkers in 1953 and apparently had a sister vessel 'Goodluck' whose whereabouts is unknown. (WM 2013)
'Farndale H' and 'Humber Renown' in Goole Docks. 2011
'FOSSDALE H' in Goole Docks. 2011
HUMBER PRIDE on the R Aire ca 1980 (Photo courtesy Methley-Village.com )
Acaster's 'RIVER STAR' on their wharf at Goole adjacent to the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
The (apparently converted) 'Service' adjacent to the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. 2011
One of the last, if not the very last, train of 'Tom Puddings' at Goole in 1984 - during the coal strike. At the far end of the train is what is now Acasters wharf and the Yorkshire Waterways Museum beyond. This was when Britain was still a net EXporter of coal rather than an IMporter!
Loaded upstream directly from one of a number of collieries, these trains were brought down to Goole in trains like this behind a tug, and then lifted bodily out the water and tipped from a great height into waiting sea-going vessels. For more on this, and photographs look here at the Goole Docks page.
Also at Goole is this fuel bowser, the Bedale Bandit - arguably not a barge but I include out of academic interest anyway. Is it related to (or even part of) the former Harkers tanker 'Bedale'?
In contrast to the Tom Puddings, Cawood Hargreaves used these larger dumb vessels on a similar principle to their older cousins. These were usually worked in pairs and push-towed as a single unit. They were destined for Ferrybridge where their contents were similarly tipped at the power station. (Photo courtesy Methley-Village.com ca 1980)
At the same colliery stage as the previous photo, was this self-powered barge - also working on the Ferrybridge traffic. These vessels were emptied by grab. (Photo courtesy Methley-Village.com ca 1980)
RIVER OUSE, RIVER HUMBER, RIVER HULL etc
ETHEL, photographed at the IWA rally in York in 1975 and seen alongside an unidentified dry cargo barge, had been engaged on the Dewsbury coal traffic on the Aire & Calder Navigation.
IRWELL, also photographed at the IWA rally in York in 1975, was built by Yarwoods as a Leeds & Liverpool Canal short boat (see others on this page, eg SHIRLEY, WYE).
This 138ft 'RIBBLESDALE' tanker was also photographed at the IWA rally in York in 1975 and was another commercial vessel at the rally on a promotional visit.
KAMA, built 1903 by Watsons/Gainsboro; market boat on the Humber after WW2; last berth in Castleford in the 90s. Kama had been used as a sailing barge on the River Trent and the Humber until 1954, when she was converted to a motor barge in Barton (with a Kelvin K2) and used as a market boat on the Humber. Kama was converted to a house-boat in the end of the 60s or in the 70s, had been in a very bad state, but is now rebuilt to her old (sailing barge) shape, with the restoration of the K2 ongoing. (GH 2014)
This is a typical dumb Humber barge, or lighter. Probably built in the 1930s/40s as one of many to handle the huge import traffic via Hull at the time. This one is at Pin Mill, on the R Orwell in Suffolk where many barges from all backgrounds have found a home to be converted to houseboats. This one is believed to have once carried the name ROSE. (RW)
I photographed this tanker on the River Hull in 2007. I could not make out a name but she appeared to be fuel bunkering.
"The tanker in the river Hull is on the edible oil same company as 'SWINDERBY' - forgot its new name but it used to be Whitakers DAVID-W " (LR). This, I am now told (2013), is 'PARAGON' (DT).
SHEFFIELD & SOUTH YORKSHIRE NAVIGATION, inc. NEW JUNCTION AND STAINFORTH & KEADBY CANALS
Swinton Junction on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation has this wonderful barge yard where craft are repaired and stored. I couldn't get close enough for any names in 2005. This has now been confirmed to be 'NEPTUNE' and not 'NORTHERN KING' as previously suggested (see elsewhere on this page for 'Northern King') (EG 2013).
At Swinton in 2005 was the vessel CONFIDENCE in mid channel. "This is a big (140ft) lighter made from two former Spillers lighters joined together by Waddingtons to transport large loads. Might be RIL Toto and RIL Dora." (LR)
An article in the March 1983 issue of Waterways World (and a full colour cover picture) confirms this and that the bows of the Toto were sliced off, along with the stern of the Dora, to make the craft out of two previously 75 ft craft. These had originally been built "by Henry Scarr of Hessle for Rishworth, Ingleby and Lofthouse" (ie RIL).
Also, in the background, there were the two original BACAT tugs - with a rather sad history. See the Work Boats and Wide Tugs section for more info on these.
This 1973 photo of Hull docks shows 8 BACAT barges, and at least one of the tugs, laid up out of use following the Hull docks fiasco.
This dumb barge/lighter was spotted in Rotherham in 2008 - apparently converted as a night club or restaurant boat.
RIVER TRENT, RIVER SOAR & TRIBUTARIES
This exhilerating shot was of a loaded gravel barge below Collingham in 1982 as we were heading upstream.
"This is MV Collingham near Collingham 150ft x 28ft able to carry about 750t. It was later converted into a crane barge." (PH)
Also in 1982, at Girton, near Collingham, was this barge (not the same one as above - but its twin on the traffic at that time) in the process of loading from the gravel pit.
"This is MV Swinderby, the same size as Collingham but with a fully built up cabin at the stern. It was then owned by Lincoln & Hull Marine, it was converted into a vegetable oil tanker in 2001 and renamed Selby Paradigm." (PH)
NEPTUNE was one of three similar barges brought over from Holland for use as maintenance craft. This one is in private ownership but the other two, URANUS & CANOPUS are discussed on the 'workboat' pages
No 10 (name not visible) was photographed at Gunthorpe on the Trent in about 2013. She appeared to be on the verge of conversion to a houseboat?
This barge (SELBY MICHAEL) has been at Nottingham for a few years (in 2009) and appears to be disused. I suspect this is yet another dry cargo vessel destined to become a house boat.
"This is one of the many vessels owned by BOCM at Selby and operated by General Freight supplying BOCM with imported nuts for processing into animal feed. It is 30.1m x 5.81m and carried 250t at 7ft 6in." (PH)
Selby Michael was at one time skippered by Laurie Dews who has written a fascinating book on his working life on the north eastern wateways. "The story of a river bargeman" by Laurie Dews. Although republished by David Lewis (2012) this book is currently out of print - but there are hopes a commercial publisher will take it on. Details here when known.
In 1982, I also spotted this barge loading gravel near Torksey. Any ideas of where she is now?
"This is Howden loading at Steetleys Cottam quarry for Ferrybridge. It was originally a tanker barge of peniche or spits size 38m x 5.05m brought to Yorkshire by Effluent Services Ltd to transport sewage sludge from Leeds to Goole for sea dumping. When the contract finished this and some others were bought and converted to dry cargo for the aggregate traffic. They had all been worked very hard with little maintenace and required a lot of work to keep them operating, but at the time no other vessels were available. Both Deighton and Sandall were also converted in the same way." (PH)
Here Seagull, a graveller in 2009 (photos by G MacKenzie), I remember this as a Cory Lighterage tanker in the 1970s when it, and her sister vessel, created a larger than average wash en route to the fuel depot at Colwick, Nottingham - much to the awe of myself as a canoeist at the time! She is currently (2012) carrying rice from Hull to Selby. (DL)
The ongoing gravel traffic on the gravel pits at Attenborough near Nottingham (alongside - but separated from - the River Trent) is intensive and obviates many lorry journeys through Long Eaton, Beeston and Chilwell. Currently, Bantam pusher tugs are used with pans rather than the previous self-powered craft (of which at least one is believed to have been sunk in the pits near Attenborough).
JUNE - In 1976 I was informed this is a 'west country' keel. That is the 'west country' of Yorkshire - not England! These were purposely built to a length of 57' 6" to be able to negotiate the shorter locks of the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Ian Monk writes, "I think the boat 'June' was operated by my father 'James Monk & Sons Adlington' in the 60's carrying coal on the Bridgwater Canal, she is named after my sister June. I certainly remember my 7'th birthday on board 'June' in 1963 and she was emptying coal in Barton Power Station." Currently she appears to be under conversion at Fiskerton, on the Trent. Previously she ran briefly on the Thurmaston (River Soar) gravel traffic in the 1970s. I have a 1976 photo somewhere showing her en route there...
This is the Yarwood's built, former Leeds & Liverpool short boat Shirley working on the River Soar gravel traffic in August 1976. The use of this vessel, along with the 'west country boat' 'June' described elsewhere, was soon deemed too wide for use on the leisure waterways - despite the obvious room seen here - and the traffic reverted to solely narrow boat pairs. Later however, in the 1980s incarnation of this traffic, broad pans and Bantam tugs were used.
SNIPE is a motorised & converted former general cargo vessel from the north eastern waterways. Photographed in 2015 at Redhill on the R Soar.
Photographed in 1974 at the IWA Nottingham National Rally, the THOMAS, nearest the camera is the last remaining Leeds & Liverpool Canal short boat built as a steamer. For a number of years in the 1970s she travelled in an unconverted state with the owners caravan on board as living accomodation. Sadly, she went over a weir at Castleford some years later - where she remains sunk to this day. Alongside her is the Yarwoods built short boat WYE.
Also in 1974 at the IWA Nottingham National Rally, a number of commercial vessels were moored below Trent Bridge, including the 350t Cory tanker BLACKBIRD, with a 250t dry cargo vessel alongside, and a pair of BACAT barges, in attempt to encourage new water-borne trade to Nottingham.
Also on the Soar, in 1980, the converted William Hennell is seen negotiating Redhill Lock and bridge - which would have become easier after the 1980s flood scheme effectively turned this lock into a flood lock. This is a rare remaining wooden craft. Anybody know where she is now?
This rather poor photo of mine does not do justice to the LEICESTER TRADER who is currently in a state of preservation as the 'Newark Heritage Barge' . She is probably the last remaining one of the many unpowered craft towed behind tugs or motor barges which kept huge amounts of traffic off the Trent Valley roads up to the early 1970s.
Finally: Lurking in a spoil heap on the Grantham Canal are the final remains of one of the last 'Upper Trent Boats'. These wide beam dumb craft were horsedrawn and carried 'night soil' from Nottingham until the canal's closure in the 1940s. In the 1970s, with some friends, we found the stem post and quickly realised what a unique opportunity for an archaeolgical dig this would be. So far I have found no takers so I am keeping the location secret. Only half the width of the boat is there and it has rotted to little more than a line in the soil so great care is needed if its details are ever to be recorded. The only other survivor of this type of craft was in the Beeston Canal near Dunkirk. Its stem and stern posts were visible for decades until someone in BW in the 1990s decided it was 'unsightly' and cleared them with a dredger. That particular craft was incidentally the first boat designed and built by the father of the late Tom Trevethick of Trevethick's dry dock in Lenton. Tom once told me how his father had made it with a round bilge so that it was better able to go through the bridges on the canal. All that knowledge is now lost. Sadly.
NORTH WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST SOUTH & EAST
This was the last remaining Severn trow in anything like its original condition. At the time this photo was taken, in 1983, the craft had been removed from the river and taken to the Blists Hill museum in Coalbrookdale where her future, even then, was uncertain because of the vast amount of money that needed spending on her. The long term intention then was to restore fully and put her on the river in Coalbrookdale. Severn trows came in a large variety of sizes - depending on whether they traded solely on the river, and how far upstream they went, or whether they also traded across neighbouring waterways - such as the Thames & Severn Canal.
This is TIRLEY moored at Healings Mill in Tewkesbury in 1981 at a time when the grain traffic to the mill had ceased temporarily prior to a brief resurgence. It has been suggested that TIRLEY has been renamed and is now on the Ryall gravel traffic as one of the boats below?
Following a huge downturn in traffic in the 1970s (mostly due to the loss of the Harker tanker traffic) the appearance of gravel traffic - mostly to Gloucester from quarries here at Ryall - is most welcome. Here are PIKE , CHUB and ELVEY...
...with PERCH moored behind. (Photos thanks to Sue Cawson)
NORTH WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST SOUTH & EAST
The Norfolk Wherry, ALBION, is well known as one of the last remaining of these craft which traded throughout the Norfolk Broads. The Norfolk Wherry Trust - which looks after Albion - has its own facebook page, with lots of photos, here .
This is the former Dutch tanker SHELLFEN, and was well known throughout fenland up until the 1970s for delivering fuel to the various pumping stations in the fens. This photograph was taken at the IWA 1973 Ely National Rally of Boats. The event was sponsored by HARP lager - hence the tarpaulin on board.