Blue and Yellow

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2017

Patrick Rawlinson

Although derided by some, the blue and yellow livery of British Waterways boats certainly looked smart after docking, especially when combined with the multitude of personal touches added by their crews, as shown here with this coal-laden pair on a summer’s day at Stoke Bruerne Top Lock, some time during the 1950s. Tom and Violet Sibley, with their daughter Selina, were recorded as the crew of motor-and-butty pair Bognor & Bideford at the time, and are seen carrying coal from pits in the north and south Warwickshire coalfield. Known destinations included the paper mills owned by John Dickinson & Co Ltd, at Apsley, Nash and Croxley in Hertfordshire. Both motor and butty were built for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company by Harland & Wolff of Woolwich as large town-class vessels, and were registered as new boats under the Canal Boat Acts at Brentford on the same day, 9th December 1936. Tom and Violet had been working Bognor for the GUCCC as far back as the early 1…

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