J. H. Taylor of Chester

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Spring 2022

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores the history of a builder of some of the first wooden leisure-boats of the post-war era

It isn’t difficult to see how individuals can become fascinated with specific fleets of canal boats, although to outsiders appreciating the finer points of difference between a Large Woolwich and the Small variant may be a step too far. So, let’s look at something completely different: the wooden pleasure-boat fleets in the post-war era, specifically, those built by J.H. Taylor of Chester.Personal experiences Before I dive into the remarkable history of this business, I think a bit of context is in order. My enthusiasm for Taylor’s craft goes way back to the very dawn of my canal-boating experience, to a time when my family hired Lindy Helen from a Mr Smout on the Llangollen Canal. We had hired a number of boats over the years and most were very much a product of their era: rudimentary plywood craft that aped the style of larger river cruisers, and were generally powered by unreliable and fuel-hungry outboard motors. These primitive pleasurecruisers may have been ch…

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