Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wendover Boats 1960’s -70’s

Although I have been down the aisle twice and in total have been married for forty years, I still don’t properly understand the female sex, in fact I don’t think any man really understands women.  I am however after all this exposure to them beginning to pick up on one or two things like when out shopping you hear “those cushions would look nice in our bedroom” really means “ get ready because you’re about to re-decorate the whole bedroom, paper, paint, curtains, carpets etc. etc.  or another example being “ I’ll have to get a new hat if we are going to soandso’s wedding/christening/birthday etc.” really means Get your wallet out boy cause I’m having a new dress, blouse, bra & knickers, coat/jumper/cardigan, shoes and handbag and all to match the new hat.  However I did not see this one coming.  For my birthday earlier this year, Dawn bought me a new computer with wireless keyboard and mouse and a lovely massive flat screen.  A week or so after my birthday I unpacked it all and set about setting it up.  My old computer had been on an a computer desk purchased from somewhere like PC world or Staples, as I put the monitor up on the desk, disaster!, it would not fit, it was too big.  I should have known------ “Don’t worry, we can call over to Ikea tomorrow night and get a new desk”  Not too bad I thought something cheap and cheerful but how wrong I was.  Four weeks later I am putting the finishing touches to our ‘new office. Worktops, cupboards, shelf units, bookcases, desk lamp as well as complete re-paint and rug, that will teach me……….Anyway as a result of this epic saga, I had to empty all my existing draws and cupboards of Junk, as Dawn calls it, and find space for it while the transformation took place.  I stacked all my bits and bobs into another cupboard in the spare bedroom and, as you do, I came across a file I had not looked into for years, in fact I had forgotten all about it.  It contained lots of more canal related ‘junk’ which I amused myself reading such as letters to and from British waterways,  Birmingham & Midland to purchase Linda (Victoria), News letters from the 1960’s – 70’s from Dudley Canal Preservation Society (Dudley Canal Trust) etc. etc. but one small note book took me eye which contained all sorts from the 1960’s newspaper cuttings about canals, a map I drew of Dudley tunnel and a hand written description, along with lots of notes about my purchase and restoration of Large Woolwich butty Bingley.  One thing that did amuse me was this.

When once I did receive confirmation that my bid for butty Bingley had been successful I went down to her to get her ready for bringing back.  This involved taking measurements of various bits that were missing like doors, slide, cross bed table cupboard etc,so I could make temporary ones for the trip.  As you can see from the scan of my notes it is simply a set of directions to get there (pre sat-nav days) nothing unusual there I hear you say but you have to remember I was only 18 at the time and still an apprentice, on apprentices wages and without transport, other than a push bike! And yes I did cycle there, a journey of 100 miles.  What the scanned note says is: 
Little Tring
Tring A41
Aylesbury A41
Bicester A41
Banbury A41
Warwick A41
Birmingham  B'ham New Road
Dudley Port

The rest is a list of things I took with me in an ex-army rucksack:
Pencils & paper
Parrafin & bottle
Samo's (Sandwiches)

 I set out at about six on the Saturday morning and got there at dinner time,  spent a few of hours on the boat bailing out about two foot of water, measuring up, cleaning out, and then, not willing to face the bike ride back, cycled down to Tring station and travelled back, with my bike in the guards van to Moor Street Station in Birmingham then cycled back home along the Birmingham new main line getting home at about ten in the evening, absolutely shattered.  Another page in this little gem was this one

This was a sketch I made of the boats and their positions up the Wendover Arm ready for the sale by tender in 1971.  And so to the purpose of this evenings blog,  I thought some of you may be interested in the full list of motors and butties that were sold by British Waterways on their 1968 and 1971 tenders.  In 1971 I paid £400 for Bingley (on average selling nowadays for 60 times that) which to me was a fortune and on the 1968 tender, motors Aldgate, Greenlaw, Stratford and my own darling Darley were all sold to Alfred Matty and Sons for £150 each! (on average selling for over 300 times that figure now)
1968 Wendover Sale
1 Aldgate                                           (Large Woolwich)
2 Aquarius                                         (Small Woolwich)
3 Ascot                                              (Large Woolwich)
4 Bainton                                            (Large Woolwich)
5 Baldock                                           (Large Woolwich)
6 Bargus                                             (Small Woolwich)
7 Barrow                                            (Large Woolwich)
8 Battersea                                       (Large Woolwich)
9 Beaulieu                                          (Large Woolwich)
10 Bicester                                        (Large Woolwich)
11 Birmingham                                   (Large Woolwich)
12 Bletchley                                       (Large Woolwich)
13 Bognor                                           (Large Woolwich)
14 Comet                                            (Large Woolwich)
15 Darley                                           (Large Woolwich)
16 Elstree                                          (Large Woolwich)
17 Greenlaw                                       (Large Woolwich)
18 Greenock                                       (Large Woolwich)
19  Hampstead                                  (Large Woolwich)
20 Nutfield                                       (Large Northwich)
21 Petrel                                            (Josher)
22 Renfrew                                        (Large Northwich)
23 Shirley                                          (Large Northwich)
24 Stirling                                         (Large Northwich)
25 Stratford                                     (Large Northwich)
26 Towcester                                    (Large Northwich)

1 Argo                                                (Small Woolwich)
2 Argus                                              (Small Woolwich)
3 Balham                                            (Large Woolwich)
4 Betelgeuse                                      (Small Woolwich)
5 Brighton                                          (Large Woolwich)
6 Carina                                              (Small Northwich
7 Hyades                                            (Small Woolwich)
8 Moon                                               (Small Woolwich)
9 Puppis                                              (Small Northwich)
10 Titania                                           (Small Woolwich)
11 Vela                                                (Small Woolwich)

1971 Wendover sale
1 Halsall                                             (Large Woolwich)
2 Tarporley                                        (Large Northwich)
3 Alton                                               (Large Woolwich)
4 Belfast                                            (Large Woolwich)
5 Sudbury                                          (Large Northwich)
6 Coleshill                                          (Large Woolwich)
7 Nuneaton                                        (Large Northwich)
8 Badsey                                            (Large Woolwich)

1 Satelite                                           (Small Woolwich)
2 Toucan                                            (Small Northwich)
3 Bingley                                            (Large Woolwich)
4 Baildon                                            (Large Woolwich)
5 Alperton                                         (Large Woolwich)
One other butty was on this sale but had no name on it and can’t even remember the type.  Well there you go another load of rubbish and one thing you can say about all these boats was that they had spent a long hard life when they were all shunted up the Wendover Arm and during that time they:
Had banged ‘em about


  1. Another good read - thanks Blossom, fascinating stuff.

  2. Although the memory fades over time, I'm fairly confident we additionally saw these amongst the second batch of Wendover boats.....

    Motor: Buxton
    Butties: Aboyne & Banbury

    Obviously there must be definitive records, but this is from memory. Sadly we took no photos.

    Our optimistic bid on "Belfast" was not a winning one!

  3. When can we read more about your adventures with Bingley?

  4. Alan your probably right, I'm just going from the lists I have that I made at the time. One when I spent a fortnight down there on Bellatrix for the first tender and the second was when I went down on my bike which was probably 7 - 10 days after the tender had finished and notifications sent out. If I remember right, wasn't Buxton, Aboyne and Banbury all bought by Three Fellows Carrying and I'm just wondering, if they were they may have already been removed by the time I went down

  5. Thanks Sarah, much appreciated, I will have to think of what to write as I did not have many 'adventures' on Bingley as if you think I was only 18, spent the first two years restoring and putting a new cabin on her, as funds would allow, then I when I moved onto her I was just 21 and a newly-wed and probably didn't have much time for boating and not having a motor meant I was reliant on a snatch from friends to go anywhere. But I will have to think and see what I can come up with.

  6. Yes,

    I would say Three Fellows took all those boats, so perhaps they were some of the first out.

    That said I don't remember I ever saw Badsey there, and had assumed that one had left earlier, so if you saw Badsey, but not the three I mention, whereas I remember those 3, but not Badsey, they something still doesn't quite add up! Perhaps I'm wrong about Badsey, but we later knew the Humphries (spelling ?) who had it, and I think I would remember had I seen it on the arm - I would ask my brother, but his memory seems no more reliable than mine after 40 years!.

    I do recall being very surprised to go there once and find one of the motors that was easiest to remove (can't remember which), not there, but going back a few days later, and it was. So certainly, to a degree, there was some movement. (I know that seems strange, as getting them in and out can't have been easy!).

    I wish I had been well enough off to take pictures - I have a Waterways World with some photos in, but few of the boats are obviously identifiable in them.

    My brother was telling me only at the week-end that he managed to "find" a complete rudder for "Bilster" there some years later - clearly people used to drop the rudders onto the bottom in order to pinch the "blades", and he managed to find a good example still there long after all the boats had gone!