... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Thursday 1 April 2010


If someone told you that in a tiny back cabin, where every inch of space was at a premium, boaters kept an empty drawer purely for the purpose of catching the crumbs after they'd had their tea, you'd think it had to be an April Fool, wouldn't you?

Yet the concept of the 'crumb drawer' lingers on to an extent that I cannot bring myself to say categorically that it couldn't have been like that; only that, given the sense and practicality of boatmen and women, and the care that went into the design of back cabins, I would need a great deal more convincing.

It almost sounds like one of those stories that started as a joke - so absurd that surely no one could take it seriously - and ended up as folklore, and only then as practice. Or perhaps it became known as the crumb drawer (it's also called a knife drawer, which sounds much more sensible) because of the habit of crumbs inadvertently ending up in it.

Still, what do I know. I keep toiletries in my monkey box, not Brasso and rags. They go in the boot cupboard and I keep my boots under the stove. I don't have knives or crumbs in my drawer (though I might keep knives in there once I've got some) but odds and ends of bits of brassware and screws, and batteries and string and stuff like that.

What I can say is that I find myself wiping the crumbs up most carefully before closing the table flap, as the last thing I want is crumbs in my crumb drawer.


  1. I think it came from someone taking the Mick out of Tom Rolt personally. Don't let George Wain here you call it a crumb draw, "IT'S A KNIFE DRAW!"

  2. That sounds plausible to me. It just has to be a wind up, doesn't it? Hence posting about it today...

  3. There are many who do call it a crumb draw but don't let any old boat people hear you call it that.

    It's correct name is definately a knife draw