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Single Horse-boating on the Grand Junction

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Spring 2019

Two images taken before WWI provide a glimpse into an age when towing a single loaded boat by horse from Brentford to Birmingham was all in a day’s work for experienced boaters

One of the biggest carriers operating from Brentford was Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd, which had its own wharf and warehouse facilities adjacent to the double gauging locks shown here, as its horse-boat Tividale prepares to get underway. When this image was taken she was practically new, having being built of wood at FMC’s own dock at Waterloo Road, Uxbridge, in January 1911, costing £140. It is rare to see a craft in such pristine condition with new paintwork and cloths and hardly a scratch or stain on them. The bare trees in the distance suggest that this picture may have been taken in the spring of that year, before the daily wear and tear of working a boat had left their mark. The image also allows us to study the decorative paintwork on the doors and cabin block, which is easily overlooked with FMC craft. The features are typical of boats on the southern Grand Junction Canal but without the flair of boatyards patronised by smaller carriers, such as at Braunston.…

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