Basingstoke Canal Boats in World War I

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2022

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones looks at a photo of the Basingstoke Canal during World War I

The postcard image overleaf is undated but the excellent condition of the boats, including their unblemished paintwork, suggests it was soon after their construction in the spring of 1914. With the start of World War I in August that year, it’s likely the photo was taken shortly after. The Basingstoke Canal had been in decline for a number of years before WWI (see NB Spring 2020). In April 1914 hope appeared in the form of a new company, the Basingstoke Canal Syndicate Ltd, which had initial success. Just a few weeks after the start of the war, it was advertised to attract new industrial and commercial trade to take advantage of newly built barges working on the canal. Alexander John Harmsworth was quick to take advantage and ordered two new narrowboats to be constructed by Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd at its Uxbridge dock. They were both six planks deep, and specially designed and built to work on the Thames tideway into the Pool of London and the surrounding docks. Both …

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Basingstoke Canal Boats in World War I featured image