The Franks Family

Tracing Family History: NarrowBoat, Summer 2008

Christopher M Jones

Graham Nurser

Chris Butcher shares her family photographs and the story of their boating life as told by her uncle Benjamin Franks; and Christoper M. Jones looks at their story through boating records

Chris Butcher wrote to NarrowBoat to tell us that her great grandparents John and Harriet Franks, and her grandparents Benjamin and Emily Franks, both had boats called Benjamin and Buzzard. Her mother had been born on Valiant and lived on it until the age of 14. Mrs Butcher wondered if we could throw any more light on her family or the boats they worked on. She also sent us a transcript of a recording made in 1975 by local historian Viv Willis who was interviewing Ben Franks, then aged 71. Ben was born and worked on the canal until he was 36 years old and was Chris Butcher’s mother’s brother. The first part of this article is his story told in his own words. <hr>I was born at Marsworth on my grandfather’s boat, which my dad worked after my grandfather died. All my people were boat people and they used to have their own boats. The boat I was born on was named Benjamin, the same name as mine. It was a narrowboat 71ft from stem to stern and about 7ft wide. We used…

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