Fellows, Morton & Clayton Steamers

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Winter 2022

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores images of steam-powered narrowboats operated by the famous carrying company

The trade For all their speed, the main drawback of steam-powered boats was the loss of valuable cargo-carrying capacity due to the space given over to the engine, boiler and fuel. All told, the extra mechanicals reduced the maximum load from the normal 25 tons achieved by a horse-drawn boat to between 12 and 18 tons. To offset this disadvantage, they tended to be used intensively on the busy north/south corridor between London and the Midlands, generally towing a fully loaded butty behind them and often working ‘fly’, which was effectively 24 hours a day.Steamers in the image slider above: Phoenix was built in 1893 in wood, but was dismantled in 1925. Unidentified steamer with butty Buckingham at Stoke Bruene. Sultan was built in 1899 and motorised in 1924. It was later bought by Alfred Matty on the BCN and sank in 1993. Marquis was built in 1898 and converted to a motor boat in 1925. It was renamed Sally and Calypso before being shortened for tug work. The boat remains …

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Fellows, Morton & Clayton Steamers featured image