Tuesday, 1 May 2012

All aboard The Skylark.

Last week I mused over emptying my computer desk draws and discovering a file containing old canal related junk that I had not looked at for a while and so here is another dip into its contents.  Back in the 1960’s, there was not much in the way of canal boats available for purchase, apart from ex working boats, which were not everybody’s cup of tea.  As yet, apart from the ardent canal enthusiasts, the leisure industry had not yet taken off and those who did venture onto the waterways did so in a vast array of ‘not built for canals’ craft including lifeboats, cabin cruisers, ex-army pontoons etc. etc.in fact almost anything that would float(most of the time) with a beam of less than 7’-0” was used.  The same could be said for the availability of hire boats which were either wooden ex working boats cut in two with new back ends put on each half or cabin cruisers of some description.  There were hire companies starting to see the future market popping up around the system, even in the Midlands with such companies as Double Pennant in Wolverhampton, Dartline Cruisers in Pennfields, Wolverhampton, Ernest Thomas at Calf Heath who had quite a few half wooden joey boats with square sterns with names like Coot, Moorhen & Heron.  Then of cause there was Dawncraft at Stewpony wharf who boasted ‘our cruisers have been specifically designed for the inland waterways’  probably not the scrap iron and brick strewn bottom of the BCN though! Here is a couple examples cut from Dawncraft’s 1966 brochure

I also like this, which is a price list from the same brochure which states:

Thinking of buying a boat
Then whether it is a 2 berth or
A 6 berth you want. . . .
We can supply it

2 Berth             19 feet                     at £650 (excluding engine)
4 Berth             20 feet                     at £877 (excluding engine)
4 Berth             22 feet                     at £977 (excluding engine)
4/6 Berth         25 feet                     at £1,185 (excluding engine)
6 Berth             28feet 6inches         at £1,850(excluding engine)

And just to finish on here is a price list from 1968, that I sent for when I was thinking of hiring one of Dart Lines cruisers which if I remember right were steel cruisers with a central ‘cockpit’ and a section of sliding cabin top I think called a Frobisher design.  Needless to say I never did hire one!

I love the ‘Note’ at the bottom which states “Tamar” can accommodate a further 1 or 2 persons if required at an extra charge of £3.00 per person, wow the expense of it!  When you think of it six of you could have had a weeks cruising this week for £5.00 each(I wonder if that included fuel and gas?)
Well there you go another dip into the past, when, lets be honest you would be terrified to:
Bang ‘em about


  1. Just above the "note" it states: "Hire charges include engine oil, calor gas, insurance and British Waterways Licence charges." Presumably "engine oil" is the light stuff which we call diesel these days, not the thicker lubricating oil.

  2. Well spotted Halfie, I missed that!