Final days of BW on the Grand Union

Last Traffic: NarrowBoat, Winter 2022

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones studies a series of photos of Fenny Stratford in 1963

All these images were taken around the late afternoon and early evening of 22nd June 1963 and show two pairs of loaded British Waterways boats on the move. The year of ’63 was crucial in the history of canal-carrying following a fierce winter that started in Christmas ’62. The exceptionally severe conditions of snow, blizzards and ice lasted until early March and their effect on traffic was the catalyst that spelled the end for most of the BW narrowboat fleet. The British Waterways Board was created at the start of January 1963 as a body independent from the British Transport Commission, yet by April it had decided to discontinue most of its carrying operations. That same month saw the creation of Willow Wren Canal Transport Services Ltd to continue the carrying work from July, meaning these photos were taken during the last full month of carrying by BW before the handover. Together with the transfer of existing traffics were 25 pairs of boats to Willow Wren. All the boa…

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