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Construction - 1939

Construction - 1939

Motor narrowboat Usk was a wooden narrowboat built in 1939 by Fellows Morton & Clayton at Uxbridge for Thomas Clayton of Oldbury.

She was a standard 70 feet by 7 feet, with oak sides and elm bottom, and built as a motorboat in a fairly similar style to the standard cargo carrying boats known as “Joshers” turned out at the yard.

Her fleet number is 94

She was registered under the Canal Boats Act at Oldbury: reg number 6

Her BCN registration number was 2054

However, she was known a a “gas” boat because she was specially adapted to carry bulk liquids - mainly gas oils from the distilleries at Ellesmere Port down to the oil depot in Oldbury. There were a number of adaptations for use as a bulk liquid carrier:

The hold was fully decked over, and divided into three watertight compartments with bulkheads which stretched right up to the gunwales., and the engine room was of rivetted steel instead of timber. She had the standard large “josher” type diesel fuel tank with separate "day" tank on top which held about 6 gallons of fuel and fed the Bolinder engine by gravity. A hand lift pump was used to fill this from the main tank every night. 

She was originally fitted with a direct reversing Bolinder, (either an early E,NE or later BW type) although it is rumoured that some boats were later refitted with W7 series engines and gearboxes.

Thomas Clayton had their own repair yard in Oldbury where boats could be docked, and they also converted numerous buttys into motors, but I don’t think they built any boats from scratch.

It is rumoured that some boats were renamed, or even names swapped around, all linked in with their policy of converting the butties and reusing timbers wherever possible.

In the 1960's the boatyard was demolished to make way for a motorway, and Claytons took the opportunity to switch deliveries to road tankers.

The boats were all sold off.


Usk in the “real” Black Country - 1945.   Photo from “Painted Boats” film (Ealing Studios)

(With permission of Canal & Image UK Ltd - Optimum Releasing Ltd - Pinewood Studios)

usk engine room

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