1937 – 1960

Yarwoods letterhead

Yarwoods Builder's PlateBeatty was ordered by the Samuel Barlow Coal Company Ltd. She was built at W. J. Yarwood and Sons, Northwich, Cheshire – Builder’s No. 586. The builder’s plan is dated 25th April 1936. She was completed by Yarwoods in November 1937. The hull cost 545 pounds and the engine cost a further 257 pounds and 10 shillings. Beatty then went to Polesworth for her final fitting out by Lees & Atkins.

There is a persistent, but incorrect, rumour that Beatty was originally intended for the Cowburn & Cowpar fleet. This is considered in the Spring 2009 edition of NarrowBoat Magazine. Euan Corrie explains how Yarwoods’ records mistakenly list two extra Cowburn & Cowpar boats in 1933, but Beatty left the yard on 24th November 1937, well after the last Cowburn & Cowpar boat had been completed in May 1936.

Beatty is of composite construction. She was built with riveted iron sides, a 3″ elm bottom and a pitch pine keelson. The bottom boards are secured by bolts to the side plates, to steel knees at 3′ 4″ centres and also to the keelson which runs the length of the boat.

  • Length: 70′ 6″
  • Beam: 7′ 1/2”
  • Depth of hold: 4′ 2”
  • Draught: 2′ 9”
  • Loaded draught: 3′ 6”
  • Carrying capacity: 25 tons

Although Beatty is based on a standard small Northwich design, she is actually a one-off with more finely shaped bows. Beatty was the only composite construction boat which the Samuel Barlow Coal Company ordered new.

Petter engine
Petter Engine at the Gloucester Waterways Museum, the same type as originally fitted in Beatty.

The engine initially fitted was a Petter ‘S’ type single cylinder semi-diesel engine developing 12 hp. This was replaced in 1955 but the engine room floor plates are still cut to fit the shape of the Petter water pump.

Beatty was gauged for the Oxford Canal on 20th December 1937 and given Oxford Canal registration number 5660.

Registration certificate
Beatty’s entry in the Register of Canal Boats at Tamworth – Click to see a larger version.

On 1 January 1938 she was registered under the Canal Boats Act 1877 at Tamworth, No. 163, to accomodate a maximum of three persons.

Beatty was given Samuel Barlow Fleet No. 47.

Admiral Beatty
Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty

‘Beatty’ is named after the famous First World War Admiral, Sir David Beatty, who died in March 1936. Admiral Beatty commanded the first battlecruiser squadron at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.  When two British battlecruisers exploded and sank (without engaging the enemy) he is reported to have said “there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today[!]”

Samuel Barlow letterhead

John Blunn
John Blunn, captain of Beatty and Little Marvel in 1955, seen here standing in Beatty’s back cabin hatch at Braunston in June 2008.

Beatty worked for Barlows carrying coal from the Warwickshire coalfields to customers on the Grand Union and Southern Oxford canals. Her steerers included Henry Monk, William Blakeman, Frederick Rice, George Higgins, Steve Dulston, John Blunn and Ray White. She is known to have been paired with Barlows buttys Dora, Ironside, Violet, York, Little Marvel, Mafeking, Jane, Mosquito, Irene and probably others over the years.

Ironside and ?
Photograph: Robert Aickman Collection/David Bolton courtesy of Waterways World.

The above photograph from the May 2009 edition of Waterways World shows Beatty with Barlows butty Ironside. Although the name is not visible, the engine room hatches are steel and in the Yarwoods style; the registration number on the boatman’s cabin appears to end in ‘3’ with Beatty’s number being 163; and the exhaust exits in the correct position for Beatty’s original engine – the Petter.

If anyone has any further information which would help to identify the people in the photograph, it would be very gratefully received.

Sea Scouts trip
Photograph: Coventry Telegraph courtesy of The Waterways Trust Archive

In the early 1950s Beatty was hired by Bert Dunkley for a camping trip with a party of Sea Scouts. Bert Dunkley is known to have hired a number of Barlows boats before he bought his own boat, Prince. This photograph by the Coventry Evening Telegraph was taken at Longford on the Coventry Canal, near Grindle Road. On the left-hand side, in the background, is one of the three gasometers at the then Foleshill Works. The area is now occupied by a retail park and the Ricoh Arena.

Thanks to Ray Thorp for the location information.

Sea Scouts at Banbury
Photograph courtesy of The Waterways Trust/Herbert Dunkley Collection

Beatty moored below Banbury Lock, probably on the same trip with the Sea Scouts. Most of the buildings are now gone and the whole area has been redeveloped.

In 1955 the Petter engine was replaced by a 22 hp Armstrong Siddeley AS2 diesel engine with a Parsons gearbox at a cost of 589 pounds, 7 shillings and 9 pence. It is believed that this was the first of its type fitted in a narrow boat and was taken out of service in 2015 after 60 years of hard working.
Port Starboard Engine photos plus logo

Engine starboard side Engine port side

Above – The Armstrong Siddeley engine which was fitted in Beatty in 1955.

Beatty at Bumblehole
Photograph courtesy of Waterways World/Laurence Hogg

Beatty seen at Harris’s dock, Bumblehole, Netherton – the stern end is recognisable by the fleet number on the cabin side and the Yarwoods stern. The butty on the dock is Irene which was paired with Beatty in the late 1950s. Barlows had bought Irene from Harvey Taylor of Aylesbury. She was built as GUCCCo Star Class butty Sarpedon.

Beatty worked for Barlows until 1960 when she was sold to Jack Craddock for conversion to a pleasure craft.