The Kimberley Experiment

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Spring 2010

In 1952 British Waterways trialled a system whereby people could take a working narrowboat from Wolverhampton to Weston Point Docks and return with a load of spelter. Not surprisingly it was not liked by the working boat community and was short lived. Will King spent a week on Kimberley and kept a photographic diary

Amongst the T.W. King Collection is an album inscribed: “A Trip from Birmingham to Weston Point Docks near Runcorn on the River Mersey and back with a load of spelter on the British Waterways Motor Boat Kimberley. July 1952. Mr & Mrs T.W. King, Ruth & Christine, Phil Garrett, and 3 Rover Scouts.” In summer 1952 the Docks & Inland Waterways Executive introduced a little-known scheme in an attempt to overcome crew shortages on boats between Weston Point and the Midlands. The Inland Waterways Association’s Bulletin of the time relates that Sam Lomas of Autherley Junction was in charge of the scheme. Selected applicants could take the newly reconditioned boat Kimberley from Autherley to Weston Point to pick up a cargo of metal for delivery to Birmingham. The DIWE paid the holidaymaker the “standard rate” for the trip, which amounted to around £6. Fuel, lubricants and tolls were all free. Sam Lomas’s eloquent description of the ventur…

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